DA to charge embattled Knysna mayor for misconduct

Knysna mayor Mark Willemse is anticipating his party — the Democratic Alliance (DA) — will charge him for misconduct on Monday after he defied the party’s demand for his resignation.

On Monday morning, Willemse told the Mail & Guardian the DA had “intimated” that it would charge him after he refused to step down on Friday — the deadline which the party gave him to leave office.

The party is now instituting a disciplinary hearing against him on grounds that he breached section 2.5 of the DA constitution, which states that a member of the party can be removed if they are guilty of misconduct.

“At this stage I’m awaiting the charges to get legal advice. Hopefully it will come today so we can try and get somewhere with this issue,” Willemse said.

DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said that the party is busy drawing up the charge sheet and a statement would be issued after the process had concluded.

The party has accused Willemse of misconduct because he voted with the ANC to oust former Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies in early June. Willemse was then elected as mayor by council, but Madikizela said that he could not be trusted because the ANC helped put him in office.

Willemse, however, said that it was the DA who nominated him to replace Bouw-Spies.

“I was elected by council. I was nominated by the DA and it was seconded by somebody from the opposition — I don’t remember who. But it was an official nomination from the DA,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘This has never happened before’ ― new Knysna mayor amid DA tussle

None of the allegations against Willemse attracted a formal charge yet, and the mayor says he is uncertain as to how he has offended the party.

“There are various opinions from leadership on what I have done wrong, but I haven’t been formally informed,” he said.

Willemse has joined Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille as an executive office bearer who is caught in his party’s crosshairs. In George, Mayor Melvin Naik has found himself also fighting for his job after he allegedly made homophobic slurs during a radio interview. Naik’s utterances in violation of section 2.5 of the DA constitution.

Naik said that he did not approve of a concert in the George municipality by US group the Boston Gay Men’s Choir a week ago.

“I am saying this without any judgment against anyone … no discrimination against anyone. This is only out of my Christian conviction and belief system that I am saying that I am not giving my approval to this concert here. All of us are equally made by God. All that I will do is bless these men and I will keep on praying for them,” Naik said in a Heartbeat FM broadcast.

In response to the outrage sparked by his statement, Naik spoke to News24, saying it was part of his Christian principles to make such utterances.

“As mayor, in my official capacity and personally, I support the Constitution and its values completely, but personally, as a Christian, I hold certain beliefs regarding LGBT people,” he said.

Madikizela condemned his statement, saying it does not represent the view of the DA.

In Knysna, Willemse is hoping to get further clarity from the party on his alleged transgressions.

“I don’t like things to be in limbo. I’m still the mayor of Knysna and there are issues that need to be dealt with. I’d like to get clarity on exactly what’s happening,” he said. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.
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