by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – A DAMNING sex scandal, featuring the mayor of the capital city and a senior municipal official, is the latest in a series of self-inflicted woes afflicting South Africa’s official opposition party.
The political own goals have left the Democratic Alliance (DA) in a farcical state ahead of the municipal polls set for 2021, when the party is forecast to face a drubbing.
The crisis-torn movement, already struggling to shed its tag as a party protecting the interests of the white minority over the years, has been lurching from crisis to catastrophe with each passing week.
The latest entanglement is a “sex-tape” featuring what is believed to be the now-suspended mayor of Pretoria, Stevens Mokgalapa, and Sheila Senkubuge, Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Roads and Transport.
In the audio clip, Mokgalapa and Senkubuge are supposedly heard discussing various politicians within the factionalised party (DA).
In the widely-circulating clip, some party members are branded as witches. Others are lampooned as moles. Mokgalapa can be heard in the clip calling policies by his predecessor, Solly Msimanga, as stupid.
The former mayor, whose stint was laden with controversy, is caricatured as being “big-headed.”
The DA has placed Mokgalapa on leave. Indications are that he will be fired. Clutching at straws, he has laid charges of extortion and blackmail.
Senkubuge has resigned from her position in the wake of the controversial clip.
John Moodey, the beleaguered organisation’s Gauteng leader, stated, “The DA is committed to provide clean governance and acts appropriately when such serious allegations arise.”
“The DA has made great progress since taking over the City of Tshwane (Pretoria) administration in 2016 and we will continue to put the residents first in delivering quality services,” he added unconvincingly.
The current humiliation comes hot on the heels of the divisive elections held in October to choose the party’s Federal Council Chairperson after the incumbent, James Selfe, announced his retirement. The position is similar to the role of Secretary-General of any given political party’s leadership structure.
Controversial former leader of the party, Hellen Zille, who in declaring her candidature admitted the opposition party was “in distress and turmoil” following its poor showing on the general election in May, was elected.
Her election sparked distress and turmoil. It sent shockwaves within the party, in part considering she had fallen out with the DA in 2017 after her tweets defending colonialism.
No sooner was she elected than Johannesburg mayor, the otherwise unpopular Herman Mashaba, announced his resignation from his position. He cited differences with the DA party leadership, in reference to Zille.
Mashaba’s resignation created speculation that then-party leader, Mmusi Maimane, would also imminently resign.
Speculation came true after Maimane indeed relinquished the post, and later, the party.
“Despite my best efforts, the DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building One South Africa for All,” Maimane said in his resignation speech.
In solidarity, Athol Trollip, resigned from the party. This also followed his defeat by Zille.
John Steenhuisen quit as the party’s Chief Whip on Parliament, but has since bounced back and succeeded Maimane as interim federal leader and parliamentary leader, a move seen by some as betrayal.
Lerato Dipholo, a sociopolitical commentator, said, “Of late, the DA has been displaying an inclination of shooting itself in the foot.”
She projected the party to lose further ground on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the rapidly growing opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
“This sex scandal is another nail in the coffin of the DA. With preparations for the next municipal polls in the horizon, one foresees an atrocious performance by the party, that is if, it even survives to make it to 2021,” Dipholo said.
The current turmoil represents a spectacular collapse of the DA’s fortunes.
In the municipal polls held in 2016, it gained control of the major metropolis of Cape Town (retained), Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay (formerly Port Elizabeth) and Pretoria.
All the mayors that ascended to those positions then are now out of their positions or the party altogether. Trollip was the mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay until his ouster in 2018 after a series of votes of no confidence.
Also in 2018, Patricia de Lille, resigned from her post as the mayor of Cape Town after the DA turned on her in what she and critics maintain were trumped up charges of corruption.
Now the leader of the GOOD party, she is having the last laugh after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed her his Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure in May this year, in recognition of her admirable work ethic and an anti-corruption advocate.
– CAJ News