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Winde asks W Cape Speaker to ’step down’ as factional battles rock DA

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A police investigation into allegations of fraud against Western Cape provincial parliament Speaker Masizole Mnqasela has fuelled factional battles in the DA’s caucus.

Masizole Mnqasela. File picture

A HAWKS investigation into allegations of fraud against Western Cape Legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela has fuelled factional battles in the DA’s caucus.

The DA provincial caucus leader, Premier Alan Winde, has asked Mnqasela to step down amid the investigation.

On Saturday the DA in the Western Cape revealed that they had laid charges against Mnqasela after whistle-blowers provided the party with submissions over the Speaker’s alleged misdeeds.

The allegations relate to subsistence, travel and entertainment allowance claims.

Independent Media can also reveal that the party has asked Mnqasela to voluntarily step down while investigations are ongoing.

“The Western Cape DA caucus leader, Alan Winde, indicated to Mr Mnqasela that he should step down,” said Richard Newton, DA communications director.

“He at the same time confirmed that he was duty bound, regardless of whether he stepped down or not, to report the matter to the Hawks and the DA.”

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said they received the documentation from the DA.

Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga said: “The DA is being proactive in ensuring integrity of the party, something they want to be known for.

“It is indeed commendable when a political party goes as far as involving law authorities to ensure investigations are thorough and transparent.”

Mathekga added: “This is how it is supposed to be done as opposed to a cover-up.”

While Mnqasela could not be reached for comment, a post on his social media showed that he spent his day cleaning the Hermanus cemetery alongside the local municipality’s leadership.

Mnqasela remains among the last handful of black DA leaders in the province after Bonginkosi Madikizela’s departure last year, and Nomafrench Mbombo stepped down as the party’s women’s network chairperson.

While details of the alleged crimes are unclear, speculation around the timing of the case has been rife among party insiders. Factional fissures in the legislature have emerged with one side supporting Mnqasela and the other backing his deputy, Beverley Schäfer.

The pair are the subject of investigations by the legislature’s conduct committee.

Mnqasela is being probed for allegedly failing to declare his interest in a family trust and claims that he hired an external law firm to probe the conduct of his deputy instead of using the legislature’s internal legal team.

Meanwhile, Schäfer was hauled before the committee for allegedly refusing to downgrade her luxury state-funded BMW X5 to an Audi Q5 after her six-month stint as MEC ended.

On Friday, the investigative report was released to the house and found that Schäfer’s continued use of the BMW resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R158,297.

The report stated that the legislature incurred the expenditure as it made payments on both cars while Schäfer refused to return the BMW.

Deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

According to insiders, warring factions are pushing for either the Speaker or the deputy to step aside in order to make way for former Cape Town mayor Dan Plato.

Plato returned to the legislature in January following his stint as mayor to replace Patricia de Lille.

Mnqasela’s faction reportedly consists of the DA’s interim deputy leader in the Western Cape, JP Smith, and the province’s leader, Tertius Simmers. Both denied this.

Smith said: “Factions don’t exist in the DA.”

Simmers rubbished the claims as well: “Whoever has provided you with this erroneous information clearly does so for malicious intent.”

Insiders said both factions were using the conduct committee as a means to settle scores.

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