“Today I announce I am resigning as a member of the Democratic Alliance,” Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey told journalists gathered in his Johannesburg home on Wednesday morning.
Moodey said he had grown progressively more disenchanted with the party in recent years due to a number of factors: the ousting of former party leader Mmusi Maimane, the failure to sanction the DA’s federal council chair Helen Zille after controversial tweets, and the growing use of disciplinary processes to “rid the DA of any of us who dare to speak out”.
The resignation comes days before the DA holds its policy conference at the weekend.
Moodey has been a member of the DA for 22 years and a public representative for the party for two decades, including four consecutive terms as Gauteng provincial leader. During Wednesday’s briefing he appeared at points to be on the verge of tears.
“Although I am beholden to the DA for the opportunity… the current DA isn’t the one I joined 22 years ago,” he said.
Moodey described a party in which “trumped-up charges and character assassination and rumour-mongering has become common practice”.
Moodey said that he was currently facing disciplinary action for “defending Mmusi [Maimane] in public”, and that further charges were pending against him.
He said that spurious disciplinary charges were used as a pretext to oust Maimane, and alleged that the same tactic was being employed to crack down on any challenges to the individuals who “have captured this party”. Among the alleged capturers, he implied, are Zille and current interim party leader John Steenhuisen.
Prior to his resignation from the DA, Moodey had entered the race to contest the DA leadership at the party’s electoral congress in October, standing against Steenhuisen and fellow challenger Mbali Ntuli.
“If I believe I am a better leader [than Steenhuisen], that tells you how I feel about the interim leader,” Moodey said on Wednesday.
He returned repeatedly to the matter of Zille’s tweets, describing her claim that the democratic South Africa has more racist laws than the dispensation under apartheid as “populist and blatant twisting of facts”.
In the June 2020 tweet in question, Zille wrote: “Lol, there are more racist laws today than there were under apartheid. All racist laws are wrong. But permanent victimhood is too highly prized to recognize this.”
Zille, Moodey charged, is “either tone deaf or ignorant or both”.
He said that the DA’s apparent acceptance of Zille’s offensive views was a sign that he could no longer be at home in the party.
Asked if he would be joining former DA Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s new party Action SA, Moodey rejected the idea. He said he was considering offers from both the private sector and NGOs.
Moodey added that he expected the DA to “come after” him following his public resignation.
“When they come after me, I will expose more things,” he said.
But among party leaders, Moodey also suggested that the attitude might be one of: “It’s just another black man going”.
The DA quickly issued a statement after Moodey’s press conference, attributed to the party’s national spokesperson Refiloe Nt’sekhe and Gauteng provincial chairperson Mike Moriarty.
“Mr Moodey’s departure is both unfortunate and unnecessary,” the statement reads.
“John has cited alleged unfairness through the charges he faces before our Federal Legal Commission. We confirm that due process was followed, as it always has been. We reject the allegation that these charges amount to a witch-hunt against him.
“It is very unfortunate that he plays the race card to justify his decision to avoid due process.” DM
Terry Pratchett forged his own sword from iron and meteorites purely for the occasion of the awarding of his knighthood.