/ 23 June 2017

No amnesty for DA’s Mbali Ntuli

Not off the hook yet: Mbali Ntuli.
Not off the hook yet: Mbali Ntuli.

Despite reaching a compromise with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille over her controversial tweets on colonialism, the Democratic Alliance has not let Mbali Ntuli off the hook yet.

The party’s federal executive chair, James Selfe, has confirmed that acting Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela – who laid the original complaint – was unhappy with the way the charges were drafted and investigated, forcing the federal executive to relook at the case against Ntuli.

Zille’s tweets – one of which said: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc” – caused a public outcry and Ntuli, a member of the provincial legislature in KwaZulu-Natal, publicly challenged Zille on social media. In May the former DA Youth leader was charged for misconduct after she allegedly liked a Facebook comment accusing Zille of being racist.

Although both individuals faced disciplinary charges, questions were raised about whether the two were being treated equally.

Those close to Ntuli believe the vocal leader is being targeted as part of a witch-hunt to push her out of the party and prevent her from contesting a leadership position at the DA’s federal congress next year.

They have alleged that Madikizela, who is known to be a close ally of Zille, is being used to fulfil the agenda of the party’s conservative guard – an accusation he had previously denied.

Selfe said the new complaint was lodged because “the complainant [Madikizela] believed that his [original] complaint was not properly encapsulated in the charges”.

“The second reason is a letter received from Miss Ntuli’s lawyers who have suggested a different way in which the matter could be resolved”.

Although Selfe said he could not go into details about why Madikizela was unhappy with the charges against Ntuli, he confirmed that the complaint meant there was a possibility that the party’s federal legal commission would have to reconduct its investigation into Ntuli.

Following its initial investigation into Ntuli’s Facebook like, the commission found no evidence against her and recommended that the party’s federal executive committee did not go ahead with a disciplinary hearing – which the party ignored.

The federal legal commission’s chairperson, Glynnis Breytenbach, said she was also uncertain why Madikizela was unhappy with the charges and investigation. “I don’t know, I haven’t seen him [Madikizela]. Every time I’m available he’s not available,” she said. “I’m expecting to meet Mr Madikizela on Friday. But until then I wouldn’t be able to elaborate.”

Several attempts by the Mail & Guardian to reach Madikizela for comment this week were unsuccessful.

Last week, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced the party had reached a settlement with Zille, which required her to apologise unreservedly for her tweets on colonialism and step down from party decision-making structures while retaining her position as premier.

Selfe said a settlement similar to that granted to Zille had not yet been offered to Ntuli and that the federal executive committee was yet to decide on a date to discuss the case.

Both Zille and Maimane have said they believe mediation would be the best way to resolve the Ntuli case.

But Madikizela has rejected calls for mediation, saying during a previous interview with the M&G that the steps he took against Ntuli were not personal and were informed by the need to have disciplinary processes pursued fairly against all members.

Ntuli was not available to comment this week, but she was quoted in The Star newspaper last week as saying she looked forward to presenting her case before the party’s federal legal commission.