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DA staff face retrenchments, no bonuses after poor election showing

The DA will start a restructuring process which may see a reduction in staff numbers. File photo.
The DA will start a restructuring process which may see a reduction in staff numbers. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is set cull jobs at its operations across the country after a poor performance in the May general elections.

Not only are DA staff members facing the axe, but the party will not be paying bonuses this year amid claims that its donors are holding back funds.

“Following a very difficult election period, the party is regrettably not in a position to pay bonuses this year. We will, however, have an extended ex gratia period in lieu of this,” DA chief executive officer Paul Boughey wrote to party staff last Tuesday.

Party sources claimed the DA was running out of money as it had built up a massive staff component over the years but was struggling to raise funds since the May elections.

“Our donor base votes with its cheque book, and they have not been happy with the party's performances,” said a federal executive member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a separate letter, Boughey informed staff that an organisational review was under way to look at streamlining processes and to develop the most efficient structure to ensure the party maximises its votes in the 2021 local government elections.

“As a result of these discussions, it has become clear some immediate changes need to be made in order for the party to reach its core election objectives for Election 2021 and to meet its financial obligations,” said Boughey.

“As such, we will be embarking on a restructuring process which may see a reduction in our staff headcount in the coming months. Over the next few weeks, we will be consulting certain employees who may be affected by this process, following the principles as required by the Labour Relations Act,” he said.

While he described the situation as “unfortunate” and acknowledged “this is a difficult time”, Boughey said it was as a result of looking at several alternatives to streamline operations over the past while that they had decided to restructure.

“We will ensure this process is carried out with the highest level of sensitivity and that it will be concluded in a reasonable manner.”

The party ignored written questions about the number of staff who would be affected by the restructuring.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said it was normal practice for the DA to review its operations in line with the electoral cycle and the party’s strategic objectives.

“This is the process currently under way. We also constantly evolve our systems to make them as efficient as possible. In this context, and in the face of a weakening economy, we are in the process of restructuring our operations in line with the relevant legislative and other requirements,” said Malatsi.

The party was doing so to be in a strong and sustainable position going into the 2021 elections, he said.

Malatsi denied claims that the party's donors were not opening their wallets to fund the party, saying they remained fully committed to the party and its cause.

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