Gwen Ngwenya, Helen Zille flayed over release of DA policy document

10 February 2020 - 09:18
By Kgothatso Madisa
DA federal council chair  Helen Zille
DA federal council chair Helen Zille

The release of a DA draft policy document to the public before senior members discuss it is likely to further cause divisions in the opposition party.

Several DA leaders have criticised the party's Federal Council chairperson, Helen Zille, and head of policy Gwen Ngwenya for not giving them the opportunity to see the draft policy document and make inputs ahead of its public release.

The document, which was released by Ngwenya at a media briefing last week, has exposed cracks in the party ahead of its April policy conference.

The document, which will guide discussions at the conference, has angered some senior party members who have accused Zille and Ngwenya of "unilaterally" deciding on DA policies.

"It is irregular for a staff member to publicly reveal policy before party structures have had the opportunity to comment," a senior DA member said.

"It seems like Gwen is making policy unilaterally. She is not a politician, she is a staff member. Politicians make policy not staff."

Among others, the proposed DA draft policy is against race and gender quotas.

However, Zille, Thomas Walters and the interim party leader John Steenhuisen have defended the decision, saying this was not the agreed process.

Walters said the process was designed to get as many comments from the public and the party ahead of the conference.

Steenhuisen said: "The process has followed the Fedex agreed timeline and process. It will also be the most inclusive and open process of policy formulation in the history of the party. Any member of the party will have full capacity to comment, propose amendments or table alternatives. It's never happened before."

However, DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said there was never such an agreement. He said he was unhappy with this decision as it was not discussed.

"I did not have input into the draft nor did we decide to invite the public to participate," said Moodey.

"It was never decided by Fedex. I am not impressed. This is just as the time when the BEE document was released before internal discussions."

Former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli accused Zille and other DA leaders of having unfettered access to the party.

While releasing the document last week, Ngwenya said it had already been circulated among its members, but Sowetan has learnt that only KwaZulu-Natal had accessed the document at the insistence of leader Zwakele Mncwango.

He confirmed this and told Sowetan that he raised the issue with Zille and told her to give him a copy of the document a day before its scheduled release.