The charismatic female politician and mayor could not control her boiling emotions, after receiving the shocking and heartbreaking news of her sudden suspension in the Democratic Alliance by party leader Mmusi Maimane.
Internal polling conducted by the DA has indicated a decrease in support following tweets by former leader Helen Zille that endorsed certain aspects of colonialism.
City Press has reliably learnt from three different sources in the party that the tweets that led to Zille being charged for bringing the DA into disrepute also led to a decrease in support for the party.
“We poll continuously, so the poll was not to try and gauge people’s response to Helen specifically. The polls are to get a sense of where public support is at, at any given time,” said a DA insider.
The poll which followed the Twitter storm indicated a decrease in support. Similar polls were conducted around the time of Dianne Kohler Barnard’s contentious Facebook post as well.
“Remember that the DA has reached its ceiling with white voters, so when you speak of a decrease, you are essentially speaking of a loss in support from black voters,” an insider told City Press.
Another insider said that in light of the poll, the only thing that made sense was for the party to get rid of Zille.
“With the view of taking over Gauteng and the possibility of a national coalition, we can’t afford to disregard the views of black voters. We need to be gaining their support ahead of 2019, not sacrificing it for one person.”
It’s understood that Zille’s legal team has requested the results of the survey as it prepares for her hearing. Zille was officially charged early in April but an official date for the hearing is yet to be set down.
Meanwhile, the uproar that erupted when the party’s executive disregarded a recommendation from its federal legal commission not to charge member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature Mbali Ntuli could end with Ntuli not being charged.
A complaint was laid against Ntuli by acting Western Cape interim leader Bonginkosi Madikizela for allegedly liking a Facebook post which in part referred to Zille as being racist.
The hearing for that case was set down for this past Thursday but was postponed indefinitely, with mediation now being considered.
Ntuli confirmed that her case had been postponed, saying: “I have sought legal advice. My representatives have been in communication with the party and are preparing my case. As far as I am aware, the hearing has been postponed in order for the federal executive to consider whether a disciplinary hearing is really appropriate in this matter.”
Many within the party cried foul over the organisation dragging its feet on dealing with Zille but moving fast against Ntuli. Her supporters are adamant that the party has done an about-turn because the case has no merit.
“Basically, there’s no case and given that this has been such a mess for the party, they are considering withdrawing the charges. This of course means they know they can’t win. Unlike the Dianne case, Mbali would not be pleading guilty to anything so the party would have to fight and prove all their charges, which they cannot. Mediation is their way out,” one supporter in the party said.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane has reiterated his desire to see the Zille case put to bed urgently.
Speaking at the party’s provincial congress in the Eastern Cape earlier this month, Maimane was tough on Zille during his address.
He told City Press this week that the Zille matter would be tabled at an extended sitting of the party’s federal executive – which will take place next week.
Maimane said he would be tabling proposals at that sitting about what could be done regarding Zille.
“These have to be consistent with our legal process and work towards achieving our objectives in 2019,” he explained.
Sources close to Maimane said that he was insistent on taking some form of action against the former leader, who is currently the premier of the Western Cape.
“He has taken up the matter personally. There is a legal process which is underway but there is also a political process. Mmusi has taken a stance around the process which he does have control over – and that is the political one,” a person close to the leader said.
Zille no longer holds any executive positions in the party. Some have speculated that Maimane could remove the former leader from her position of premier, but have warned that there would be dire political consequences for the party leader if he opted for that course of action.