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DA leadership candidate Ntuli says virtual elective congress won't be credible

Last week, the party's federal executive council resolved to hold the online congress on 31 October this year.

FILE: Mbali Ntuli officially announced her decision to run for the leadership role of the Democratic Alliance. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - One of the candidates for the Democratic Alliance (DA) leadership race Mbali Ntuli has objected to the proposal for a virtual elective congress, saying it won’t allow for a credible, free and fair process.

Last week, the party's federal executive council resolved to hold the online congress on 31 October this year.

The congress was initially slated to take place at the end of this month, but those plans were changed because of restrictions associated with the coronavirus lockdown.

In a letter sent to DA members, Ntuli argued that it would be implausible to facilitate rigorous debate and discussion with over 2,000 delegates and party members online.

She also said that many rural communities would struggle with internet connectivity, causing many delegates to be left out of the process.

Ntuli’s campaign spokesperson Sam Mgobozi said: “I firstly can confirm that Mbali did write this letter to the federal congress. We believe that the federal council that is scheduled to sit in July to deal with this matter should indeed then ventilate all these issues.”

Ntuli, the DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, and Gauteng Democratic Alliance leader John Moodey will go head-to-head for the top post.

COURT CHALLENGE OF OUTCOME LIKELY

Ntuli said that if the party continued with its online elective conference later this year, there was a high possibility that its outcome would be challenged in court.

She has also questioned the security of the voting process, saying that there was no guarantee that the approved delegates would be the ones who would be voting or participating in a virtual congress.

But political analyst Ralph Mathekga said this could benefit her rival, Steenhuisen: “He has been very visible as someone that people can trust as a figure or a permanent leader.”

The party’s federal council chair Helen Zille and the chief operations officer Liana van Wyk have been tasked with preparing a detailed proposal on the plan to hold the congress and present a report on the state of readiness in July.