Hotel room error led to Bhanga’s absence

A hotel room bungle was the reason why Nqaba Bhanga failed to step onto the stage when his DA election victory was announced before 400 delegates in East London recently.

Nqaba Bhanga

The Daily Dispatch has learnt that Bhanga, the new provincial leader of the DA, had to vacate the hotel room he was booked into after it was found that a female delegate had been booked into the same room.

Bhanga ended up at a bed and breakfast facility in Beacon Bay and not at the Regent Hotel – where other delegates stayed – which adjoins the ICC auditorium where the DA congress was held.

His failure to appear on the stage has remained a topical issue since the conference earlier this month – with a number of theories doing the rounds.

When Bhanga could not be found on the Sunday morning, when the results were announced, he was castigated by DA national chairman Athol Trollip for being an “embarrassment to the party” and national leader Mmusi Maimane.

His disappearance created panic among his supporters, but the only information supplied by Bhanga at the time was that he had felt “nervous” about the conference outcome and had been somewhere in Beacon Bay.

It is not clear how Bhanga and the 24-year-old woman, whose name is known to the Dispatch, ended up being booked into the same room. However, it is understood that party bosses asked him to find alternative accommodation.

The female delegate is from the DA’s Ngqura constituency, which is the biggest in Nelson Mandela Metro, covering 24 wards. Bhanga was the DA’s leader in Nqura until he was succeeded by Yusuf Cassim.

The female delegate confirmed attending the congress and having been booked into a room with “a stranger”.

The DA’s Elmarie Botha, who was the convener of the congress, said the sleeping arrangements had been handled by the various constituencies, through their administrators. She said she had no explanation for how Bhanga’s booking had been bungled.

“The booking for Nqura constituency was handled by Nicholas Nyathi; please call him and ask him,” said Botha.

Nyathi said the booking error must have been caused by the hotel. “It must have been an error from the hotel side when they were allocating the rooms, but I can assure you [the delegate] and Bhanga did not share a room. He did not check into the hotel.”

Bhanga refused to comment on the matter. — simthandilef@dispatch.co.za

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