Would-be DA leader Mbali Ntuli blasts her own party

Firebrand former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli says she cannot watch the party 'disappear into oblivion' and she'll throw her hat in the ring for the leadership.
Firebrand former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli says she cannot watch the party 'disappear into oblivion' and she'll throw her hat in the ring for the leadership.
Image: MARTIN RHODES

DA politician Mbali Ntuli has accused the current party leadership led by Helen Zille of running the party like their own. Ntuli says under Zille, the party has lost its fairness, saying the current crop of leaders are making serious decisions without consulting other top party members.

Speaking at a press conference where she officially launched her campaign for the top leadership position, Ntuli said it was concerning how the party’s draft policy document was not discussed widely.

She said the draft policy document, which was presented by the DA’s head of policy Gwen Ngwenya last week, was a decision by only a few people.

The document will guide discussions at the party’s policy conference in May where new party leadership will also get elected.

“We must build this party and bring this fairness in a way that every member gets to participate in its processes. It can’t just be a few leaders that decide what is it that we believe and decide our policy decisions for us. That’s not fair,” Ntuli said.

According to Ntuli, the process that guided the policy was unfair as it excluded branches and other structures who did not have a sight of the document before it was released.

“I do think we should have had sight of the draft policies ourselves as the members before they were given to the media. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about when I say we need to make the party fair and the broader membership of the party needs to be involved because otherwise what you have is a situation that becomes acrimonious unnecessarily when we actually could have just gone about the way of letting branches and structures actually participate in this process.”

Ntuli was one of the DA leaders who were opposed to the return of Ngwenya as head of policy, saying due processes were not followed.

Ngwenya was reappointed shortly after the party's former leader Mmusi Maimane resigned from the party last year. Ngwenya had left the position earlier in the year as she could not agree with Maimane on certain policy issues including the question of race.

“I do think and I have said internally that perhaps the way in which Ms Ngwenya’s appointment happened was procedurally different to others but it was at a time when as a party we had just had all our leadership resign,” Ntuli said.

Ntuli said she was running for the top position to bring fairness back into the party and believes this would get back the voters the party lost in the previous elections.

She said one of her immediate tasks would be to change the culture of “getting decisions made from the top with nobody being able to hear what we feel like on the ground”, and build a “party where every member matters where some are not more equal than others”.

Ntuli is going against interim party leader John Steenhuisen, Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey and Western Cape provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela for the top position.

She said that she wanted to take over the party's reigns as the current leadership was operating from a position of fear and not fully taking advantage of the potential growth opportunities.

Following the unprecedented return of Zille to the second most powerful position in the party, there were talks of the “old white guard” returning to power in order to get back the lost white voters.

“I don’t think the DA itself is in the wrong trajectory, I think that the leadership, the current leadership, has the wrong trajectory. I say that because a lot of the strategy seems to be focusing on stabilising when this is not the opportunity to be scared to grow.”

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