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DA leader in the Eastern Cape legislature served with suspension notice after Facebook post calling Helen Zille a racist

DA leader in the Eastern Cape legislature served with suspension notice after Facebook post calling Helen Zille a racist
Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Lulama Zenzile)

The leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape legislature, Nqaba Bhanga, has been given 48 hours by the party to explain why he should not be suspended following his Facebook post calling the chairperson of the party’s Federal Council, Helen Zille, a racist.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has unanimously resolved to serve the DA leader in the Eastern Cape legislature, Nqaba Bhanga, with a notice of intention to suspend him from all party activities pending the outcome of an investigation into claims that he brought the party in disrepute, among other transgressions of the DA’s standards of conduct for its members.

This comes after Bhanga posted on his Facebook account on Saturday that Helen Zille,  was “the most racist person” and was working with the ANC against him. “Yesterday I learnt how she got information to try to destroy the ANC. I’m hurt to know that you were working with the ANC against me,” the post read.

The DA’s provincial leader in the Eastern Cape, Andrew Whitfield, said Bhanga would have 48 hours to respond in writing with reasons why he should not be suspended.

Whitfield said that based on the DA’s constitution, which prohibits publicly using race or gender to cast aspersions on another DA member, they were compelled to serve him with a notice of intention to suspend him — which Bhanga has accepted.

“At this stage, we are just extremely disappointed, and whatever personal issues that Nqaba is going through we hope he resolves them speedily,” Whitfield said.

“Unfortunately, his conduct required that we enforce our rules decisively and swiftly. We are obviously extremely disappointed, Nqaba has always been an advocate for non-racialism and his behaviour on social media is worrying.”

Whitfield said that they had not received any evidence or any information to support Bhanga’s claims.  The provincial executive committee has referred the case to the party’s Federal Legal Commission for an investigation.

In an interview with The Herald on Saturday night, Bhanga claimed that Zille was investigating him and “keeping files on black people”.

He claimed that the DA was “judging him” and investigating him for a relationship he has with a former Nelson Mandela Bay official. He also alleged that he was being investigated for his house in Walmer, Gqeberha, which allegedly cost R6-million.

Zille told Daily Maverick there was absolutely no foundation for Bhanga’s claim that she was investigating him and other black members.

“I am not investigating any black DA members. I am not investigating any members as it is not my role or function to do so,” she said.

“I am only trying to get Nqaba Bhanga to go into rehabilitation for his alcohol addiction, as he promised he would do. He has been trying to get out of this commitment, and only falling deeper into the hole of addiction,” she said.

In August 2021, during curfew in the Covid lockdown, Bhanga, who was then the executive mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, was involved in a car accident in Algoa Park, in which two people in another vehicle died. Bhanga sustained a fractured wrist and had to undergo surgery to stop internal bleeding

Read more in Daily Maverick: Many tough questions await Nelson Mandela Bay’s DA Mayor Nqaba Bhanga after birthday car crash

Zille also said that it is widely known that Bhanga had a serious drinking problem, which could be seen in the manner in which he wrote the post.

“Everyone knows it is true, and we should stop trying to cover it up. He is trying the old trick — when in a corner, accuse someone of being racist and it is an easy ‘out’. I am sick of that ruse and I will no longer tolerate it. There is no truth in the allegation of racism. There is 100% truth in the statement about his alcoholism. I will tell the truth to counteract lies,” she said.

Daily Maverick tried to get comment from Bhanga, but he did not respond to calls and messages sent to him on WhatsApp. His comments will be added if and when he responds. DM

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