Is DA downsizing on black? – Phumzile van Damme faces forced exit
After Friday’s row with Phumzile Van Damme, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been thrust into yet another controversy surrounding its relations with black leadership.
Phumzile Van Damme placed on involuntary ‘sabbatical’
At first glance, John Steenhuisen’s letter to Phumzile Van Damme seemed like a genuine act of concern when he informed the DA’s shadow minister of communications that her sick leave had been extended for a further three months.
It became apparent that Van Damme was performing her parliamentary duties at a reduced capacity due to her battle with a functional neurological disorder since she was placed on leave in September.
However, things started to look a bit shoddy when she came out on Twitter, on Friday, claiming that she had not asked to be placed on a three-month sabbatical.
I have been informed by the Federal Leader of the DA @jsteenhuisen that he is granting me a sabbatical. I didn’t request it. He merely informed me. I could walk away, but I choose to stay, and challenge it ON PRINCIPLE.— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) December 4, 2020
John Steenhuisen shrugs Van Damme off in his response
Speaking to News24, Steenhuisen refuted claims that this was his ploy in ridding his party of figures who were not supportive of his leadership bid.
“This is a decision made in consultation with the caucus leadership and with Mrs Van Damme’s best interests at heart, I am sorry she is trying to portray it otherwise,” the DA leader claimed.
Van Damme, however, was not convinced. The DA MP vowed to deal with the matter and fight off the ‘sabbatical’ at the turn of the year when she returns from vacation.
While she suntans in the basking heat of her holiday destination, in South Africa, her impending exit from the DA has spurred talk about the party’s alleged agenda of getting rid of black leadership in its structures.
The fact that white people show you everyday they don't want you and you impose yourself on them is very worrying. Abanifuni Phumzile accept that…— Sphithiphithi Evaluator (@_AfricanSoil) December 4, 2020
From Lindiwe Mazibuko, Herman Mashaba, to the dramatic exit of Mmusi Maimane — notwithstanding the return of Twitter tyrant Helen Zille — the DA, it seems, has assumed a new political strategy and murmurs suggest that it doesn’t involve inclusivity.
The Conversation eloquently details the political dilemma faced by the party. It seems, what was once the party’s ambition — to triumph ahead of the ruling ANC in liberal politics — has been reduced to a niche: Vye for the minority vote and with everything in their power, retain control of the Western Cape.
Whether this shocking move to axe Van Damme was influenced, in any way, by Zille was shot down by the shadow minister.
“HZ and I disagree, then we meet and resolve it like adults,” she tweeted.