DA to carry out full audit on party members’ qualifications
With City of Cape Town mayco member Xanthea Limberg the latest high-profile DA figure to be fingered in an ongoing qualifications scandal, the party now says it will launch a full audit.
The DA will carry out a “full audit” on the CVs of its public representatives, party leader John Steenhuisen told Daily Maverick on Thursday.
“I have requested the [party’s] Chief Executive Officer to do a full audit on the CVs of the elected MP and MPL candidates from the 2019 election, as well as the CVs submitted by prospective candidates for this year’s local government elections,” Steenhuisen said.
The move comes as another high-profile DA figure has been accused of deceit over qualifications.
The Weekend Argus has alleged that City of Cape Town mayco member Xanthea Limberg claims a degree from the University of Cape Town on her CV which she has not earned. Limberg’s defence was that the newspaper was in possession only of an “abbreviated” version of her CV.
The qualifications fracas follows Daily Maverick’s exposé of DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela for not possessing a BCom degree as he had publicly advertised. Madikizela was put on suspension pending a party investigation and has since resigned from all DA posts.
In response to Madikizela’s offence, the party’s federal council chair Helen Zille claimed that it was not common practice to vet CVs at the time he began working for the party in 2009.
“We accepted at face value what [candidates] told us,” Zille told Daily Maverick.
In the aftermath of the Madikizela revelation, questions have been asked about the qualifications of a number of other DA figures. The party’s chief whip Natasha Mazzone was wrongly accused of inventing a law degree, while Saldanha mayor Marius Koen has threatened legal action against those who continue to question the academic record on his CV.
While most political posts do not have a particular university qualification as a prerequisite, the issue has taken on additional significance since President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the amended National Qualifications Framework Act into law in 2019. That legislation makes it a criminal offence in South Africa to lie about one’s qualifications.
Steenhuisen told Daily Maverick on Thursday that in the course of the party’s qualifications audit, individuals will be required to provide certified copies of the degrees or diplomas listed on their CVs.
“In instances where there is a disconnect, the individual concerned will be referred to the federal legal commission for investigation,” Steenhuisen said.
He said that all the cases brought to light thus far have followed this route.
Steenhuisen acknowledged that the flurry of allegations against party members was “a matter for concern”. DM