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Fate of the DA’s Masizole Mnqasela, speaker in the Western Cape legislature, still hangs in the balance

Fate of the DA’s Masizole Mnqasela, speaker in the Western Cape legislature, still hangs in the balance
DA speaker in the Western Cape provincial legislature Masizole Mnqasela. (Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Shelley Christians)

The DA in the Western Cape is reportedly planning to remove the speaker of the provincial legislature, Masizole Mnqasela, but his office says it has received no formal notification of this.

The office of the speaker of the Western Cape legislature says it won’t be “drawn into conspiracy theories in the public space” about a possible motion of no confidence in Masizole Mnqasela.

This follows reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus in the legislature wants to get rid of one of its senior representatives.

Over the past two weeks, there have been reports that speaker Masizole Mnqasela would be facing a motion of no confidence by members of his own party, with News24 reporting that the DA — the majority party in the provincial legislature — wants him out.

“There’s nothing formally brought to parliament for the legislature to express a view,” said Sisonke Mlamla, the spokesperson in the office of the speaker.

Mnqasela became speaker in 2019 after the general elections.

In May this year, interim leader of the DA in the Western Cape, Tertuis Simmers, said the party had handed over documentation — including protected disclosures by whistle-blowers — to the Hawks, alleging wrongful allowance claims by Mnqasela.

Mnqasela denied the allegations against him.

The DA then announced that Mnqasela had been suspended from all party-related activities until the completion of an investigation, or until disciplinary proceedings had been instituted against him.

In June, Mnqasela raised eyebrows in the DA when he attended the 52nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Africa Regional Conference in Sierra Leone without permission from the party.

At the time, DA Western Cape provincial chairperson Jaco Londt told Daily Maverick that any official international trip required approval from the party.

Read more in Daily Maverick:DA sees red over its Western Cape legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela’s Sierra Leone trip

In July, the party confirmed that its Federal Legal Commission had recommended Mnqasela be charged with misconduct. 

When the news broke about the investigation into Mnqasela, a report emerged implicating Mnqasela’s deputy, Beverley Schäfer, in wasteful expenditure to the tune of R158,297. This related to her apparent failure to promptly return a government-leased BMW X5 once she assumed the deputy speaker position after a stint as an MEC.

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This saw the provincial legislature paying for the lease of both the BMW and an Audi Q5 that was to be used as an official vehicle for the deputy speaker.

Schäfer’s case was referred to the provincial legislature’s conduct committee, which is closed to the public. She has maintained via media releases that she followed due process in the leasing of the car.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “DA’s Western Cape leaders in hot water over reports of wasteful spending

When Daily Maverick asked the speaker’s office if there was any cause for concern that two of the party’s senior officials were implicated in alleged wrongdoing, and whether this would affect the functioning of the legislature, Mlamla said: “This office will not speculate on the perceived imaginary squabbles that cannot be substantiated. Parliament is stable and efficiently functional at optimum capacity. 

“The Western Cape provincial parliament has just been given a clean bill of health when the Auditor-General gave us a clean audit.” 

In a statement, ANC deputy chief whip, Muhammad Khalid Sayed, said the premier had not yet communicated officially about a potential motion of no confidence in the speaker. Sayed said Premier Alan Winde “remains the weakest leader” the province had, and that Winde continued to undermine the legislature.

The ANC would call on Winde to release details of the planned motion of no confidence and when it would be tabled in the provincial legislature. 

Winde’s office referred Daily Maverick’s queries to the DA.

“No internal processes have been concluded yet… We will communicate once there are any further developments,” was the response from the party.

The scandals involving the two officials aren’t the only ones in the legislature this year. DA legislator Albert Fritz resigned from the legislature following his firing as Community Safety MEC due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Two ANC members have also been involved in scandals this year. Andile Lili was found guilty of incitement to murder and Danville Smith was arrested on charges of fraud and theft of a motor vehicle. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ANC Western Cape attempts damage control after second arrest of MPL Danville Smith

Good party member of the provincial legislature, Shaun August, was named in an internal party investigation following an apparent sex and booze scandal during a crucial by-election campaign in the Witzenberg municipality. DM

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