'We are only stronger when we have ideas': Mbali Ntuli on DA seeing dissenting voices as 'ill-discipline'

Mbali Ntuli, who is contesting leadership of the DA, has spoke out about dissenting voices in the party.
Mbali Ntuli, who is contesting leadership of the DA, has spoke out about dissenting voices in the party.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

DA leader hopeful Mbali Ntuli says the party sees dissenting voices as “ill-discipline”.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Ntuli said over the past few years dissenting voices and disagreements have led to clashes in the DA, and that the party has seen this as being “ill-disciplined”. 

“I think that is the wrong tactic for a political organisation, specifically one that considers itself liberal,” said Ntuli. Debates should be incredibly central to our ethos as a party. To have people feel they cannot raise their voices or that they need to fear or worry about disciplinary action is the wrong tactic for where the party should be.”

Ntuli said one of the reasons she was running to become leader of the party is “to stop that kind culture” and bring in a “culture where people can debate and have free rein in the party”. 

“We are only stronger when we have more ideas. There are plenty of people in our party who have so much to contribute, but can't do so because they don't think they have the mechanism,” said Ntuli.

Claims denied

DA leader John Steenhuisen denounced Ntuli's claims, saying she was the one who suppressed dissenting voices.

He told EWN Ntuli suppressed dissenting opinions while she was the leader of the DA Youth, and that's “why her leadership of the DA Youth ended the way it did”.

Public criticism

This is not the first time Ntuli has spoken out publicly about wanting change in the DA.

Last week, she sent a letter to the delegates who will be attending the DA's virtual congress in October in which she criticised the party's management style. Ntuli said the DA's problems were not properly diagnosed because there was a “preoccupation with feigning unity at the expense of having the difficult conversations”.

Ntuli said race issues were not destroying the DA, but rather old-fashion power grabs by individuals within the party.

“This phenomenon is what is destroying the DA. Not race, not ideology, not young vs old, but plain, old-fashioned power grabs often lead by individuals who seem to believe ruling by fear is the only way to instil discipline and be unchallenged,” said Ntuli.

Candidates banned from using public platforms to speak out?

According to DA MP Phumzile van Damme, the party's candidates are no longer allowed to publicly discuss the leadership contest.

She was answering a social media user who asked how she would categorise Steenhuisen and Ntuli's leadership styles.

“Candidates themselves cannot use public platforms to share their offer (this was allowed in the past). Nothing precludes members from pronouncing support for a candidate and their reasons,” she said.


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