Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille on Sunday described Western Cape Community Safety minister Lennit Max’s alleged extramarital affair as a “private” matter and denied reports that he would face an internal investigation for sexual harrassment.
“An extramarital affair between consenting adults in private is not a matter that can be regulated by a political party, the state or the media,” Zille said in a statement.
“If it does not have negative public consequences, such an affair is a private matter that is the concern of the participants, their families, their God and their church.”
Zille said there was no allegations of sexual harassment in the scandal that has hit the DA while President Jacob Zuma weathers a storm over his love child with the daughter of soccer tycoon Irvin Khoza.
Julian Jansen, Max’s former spokesperson, has claimed that he had made advances to two women who work in his office.
But Zille said she had interviewed the women and both denied that there had been “any form of harassment or improper relationship in the office”.
Max last week took special leave after Belinda Petersen told newspapers she had a steamy affair with Max.
Said Zille: “As far as the allegations of Mrs Belinda Petersen are concerned, there is no allegation or evidence that non-consensual sex was involved”.
“Unless there is evidence to the contrary, this matter has nothing to do with anyone except the Max and Petersen families, their consciences and their respective churches,” she said.
Scandal puts paid to political ambitions
Rapport newspaper reported on Sunday that Max’s conduct would be investigated through party structures, and quoted members as saying the scandal had put paid to Max’s ambitions of becoming provincial leader when the party holds a leadership conference in March.
But Zille said there would be no probe, adding: “Given the context, there is too much scope for conflict of interests emerging in the run-up to the provincial congress.”
The DA leader heaped criticism on Zuma after his affair with Sonono Khoza became known, saying his sexual conduct had set back the fight against HIV/Aids.
She said on Sunday that private actions by politicians became “a matter of public concern, for example, if a politician does not practice what she or he preaches”. – Sapa