'We must be fair to both'

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

The ID's disciplinary chairman Mervyn Cirota does not intend to discuss the sexual harassment case involving Avril Harding, the party's co-founder.

Cirota, also the party's newly elected chairman, said that he wanted "to be fair" to both sides in the case.

Harding, the ID's former chief whip and secretary-general, has been accused of sexual harassment by the party's newly elected deputy president, Agnes Tsamai.

He allegedly told her - in a phone call - while at the party's provincial congress in Klerksdorp last month: "I want you."

Neither Harding nor Tsamai could be reached for comment yesterday.

"I am not prepared to discuss the details of the case," Cirota said yesterday.

"All I am prepared to say at this time is that he has been charged with a breach of the ID's sexual harassment policy. The disciplinary hearing has been postponed until July 25, to enable Harding to obtain further information relating to the charges."

Harding was expected to appear before the party's disciplinary committee yesterday.

"It is unfortunate that this matter has made it into the media. We want to proceed with our internal procedures that protect the rights of Tsamai and Harding equally," Cirota said.

Harding formed the ID with Patricia de Lille in 2003. This weekend he failed to hold on to the secretary-general position, which went to Haniff Hoosen.

Harding is expected to use the floor-crossing period - starting on September 1 - to cross to another party, or form his own.