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Ngwenya's comeback to DA hits snag

Gwen Ngwenya's reappointment as DA's head of policy is said to be opposed by some members of the party's federal executive.
Gwen Ngwenya's reappointment as DA's head of policy is said to be opposed by some members of the party's federal executive.
Image: Gwen Ngwenya via Twitter

Gwen Ngwenya's reappointment as DA's head of policy has hit a snag.

Sowetan understands that Ngwenya was scheduled to resume her duties when objections as to how she was reappointed were raised during the federal council meeting that elected John Steenhuisen as the party's interim leader on Sunday.

Insiders said the party's national management committee (NMC), a structure tasked with day-to-day running of the DA, approved Ngwenya's reappointment but that this has been objected by some members of the federal executive (FedEx).

"The NMC approved the appointment but some FedEx members wanted to challenge the appointment and those objections would be entertained this weekend," said an insider.

Another senior DA member said because the council meeting was convened to elect an interim leader, "there was no adequate time to discuss it, hence it was moved to the proper FedEx meeting".

Ngwenya resigned from her position in January and wrote a scathing letter after having a fallout with the former leader Mmusi Maimane over whether race should be used in redress.

Zille is said to have appointed Ngwenya, a decision that was later condoned by NMC.

According to the DA's constitution, the NMC has to report every decision to the FedEx, whose members decried that such was not done.

The constitution is not clear on whether FedEx has any powers to reverse the decisions made by Zille and the NMC, but this will be discussed further at the weekend. Zille enjoys a 75% support in the party's structures.

Another senior member said that it was not clear what the other members of FedEx are objecting to as Ngwenya has "necessary qualifications".

"I'm not sure what their objections are because she has the qualifications while most senior leaders like John [Steenhuisen] and Natasha [Mazzone] do not have any qualifications. "But also, FedEx would never get consulted on such appointments. I don't see how they are not the body to make such decisions," said the member.

In her resignation letter in January, Ngwenya decried that she was tasked to deal with policy issues but no resources were made available to her. According to sources close to her, Ngwenya is said to have complained that Maimane and other leaders were not "taking policy seriously" and that they had not allocated her any budget.

"She was really against the previous management structure and they have now all left and at the time of resigning she could not have seen that happening and now she is considering her return," said the source.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi confirmed her reappointment would be discussed this weekend. Zille yesterday defended her decision to appoint Ngwenya and said she is seeking legal opinion on whether she had to consult with the FedEx ahead of making such an appointment.

"I do not discuss internal staff appointments in the media. We have sought a legal opinion about the process to date and will continue to handle the matter professionally in terms of due process," said Zille.

Steenhuisen did not respond to Sowetan's request for comment yesterday.

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