The writing was on the wall. As a candidate for the 2017 race to become the Western Cape DA Leader, Max Lennit accused his opponent, Bonginkosi Madikizela, of allowing the DA to weaken during his tenure as Deputy Leader. Since then, the situation has radically deteriorated.
Lennit Max has reason to feel frustrated. He may even be angry.
He failed to win the DA Western Cape Leadership 4 times. Last time, Madikizela beat him to the post. Max claimed vote rigging, wanted a recount, but then discovered that the votes had been destroyed. Max is a policemen whom the DA made the Western Cape MEC Movies & Theatre – probably to placate his followers but not so that he could wield political power where it counts most. Max is no angel, he has a questionable history with women, but this isn’t about that.
Earlier this month, Lennit Max spectacularly announced his resignation as MEC so that he could pursue a job as adviser to Bheki Cele, Minister of Police and member of the ANC. Madikizela was quick to treat Max as a betrayer, insisting loudly in the media that he resign from the party. Madikizela’s failure as a leader was evident when it was revealed on Cape Talk that he hadn’t bothered to call or meet with Max.
Whilst the DA can least afford it, Madikizela seems to be pushing another coloured leader into the arms of the opposition (it’s unsurprising that Max, like Patricia De Lille, is ex-Independent Democrats).
MADIKIZELA’S RAPID RISE TO POWER
Bonginkosi Madikizela’s rise to the power in the DA hypocritically arrived after his previous memberships of the ANC and COPE, and some of Max’s supporters are sure to believe that white DA leadership used Madikizela (and Mmusi Maimane and Lindiwe Mazibuko) to prioritise black votes ahead of coloured votes. In a political numbers game, Max may have been expendable.
Solly Malatsi, the DA’s new national spokesperson, contradicted Madikizela loud opinions and demands with, “The national leadership is of the view that, until he has pronounced otherwise on his membership, Mr Max has the right to be employed by whoever he wishes. He is free to be employed by anybody and that is the business between himself and his employer.”
If the DA wasn’t being heartfelt, they were certainly seeking to shorten another negative period in the media, as well as quell objections by Max’s supporters in the DA. No matter the intention, it was a slap to Madikizela. If he wasn’t in a faction, he would’ve been in serious trouble.
Helen Zille may be sidelined but it’s her faction, which includes Madikizela, that influences the DA and controls the Western Cape. James Selfe, the DA Federal Executive Chairperson, was always above them all. Consequently, the status quo remains unchanged if Zille’s people now bow directly to him. It’s obvious that Maimane has always been irrelevant except as a black token and highly paid spokesperson for the faction.
You’re either in the DA’s power centre or you’re out. There’s favouritism for those that are in.
Glynnis Breytenbach, who received millions from a DA sponsor both for her business and her court fees with the NPA, was immediately highly placed in the DA. What of Dianne Kohler Barnard sharing a Facebook post which admired former apartheid president PW Botha? And Zille’s tweet immunity? Madikizela defended Zille but hypocritically laid complaint against a DA member that liked a post calling Zille a racist. And Bonginkosi himself got a free ride after failing to declare the R3000 birthday cake he received from a building contractor who was doing business with his Human Settlements department.
The DA has long protected its dominant faction no matter the cost to the Public so its interesting that the DA’s official position overruled Madikizela’s feelings and authority. It should have been sign of him being on shaky ground yet that has never deterred the faction he belongs too.
NO PUNISHMENT, ONLY PROMOTION
The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa claimed that Bonginkosi Madikizela was to become Cape Town’s Mayor whilst MEC Alan Winde (same faction) was to become Western Cape Premier. This writer heard that too. However, the De Lille saga is far from over so both Madikizela and Winde have entered the Premiership race. A Cape Messenger’s article’s headline was, ‘Zille’s man Madikizela seen as shoo-in’. That’s more scary than Winde winning.
As the DA Western Cape Leader and MEC Human Settlements, Madikizela has earned over R2-million annually whilst presiding over the infamous and ongoing Patricia de Lille scandal, the Knysna Mayoral crisis, the Hawks raiding of George Municipality, the loss of Bitou and Kannaland municipalities to the ANC, and other controversies.
How is it that his power has continued to grow in the DA?
THE DA TOWN OF CORRUPTION
Knysna, a municipality of cronyism and intimidation, serves as particularly disturbing example of what happens when one faction is put before the constitution of the DA and the well-being of the Public.
Max was right when he said to the Daily Maverick that local structures have complained that they are “treated like step-children”. Madikizela brought Anton Bredell with him as his right-hand man to try force his faction’s interests on Knysna. Bredell is both MEC Local Government and Chairperson DA Western Cape Provincial Committee. Bredell is compromised by the Knysna corruption through having repeatedly failed to act on information from the Public and himself being implicated in an illegal director’s appointment and an illegal tender that favoured property developers.
The problem, for them, is that ex-Mayor Eleanore Spies, said to be their faction member, has been involved in gross maladministration and corruption in Knysna that resulted in her being ousted by DA Councillor Mark Willemse – WITHOUT CAPE TOWN’S APPROVAL. The only logical reason why the DA leadership has long refused to address complaints from the Public and DA councillors is because Spies helped maintain a cover-up that implicates its faction higher-up e.g. Premier Helen Zille, MEC Winde and MEC Bredell.
There’s been no pretense at impartiality. A real leader would’ve investigated but Madikizela ignored the corruption package I couriered to him and ridiculously claimed to the Media that my allegations, as expressed through Parliament to the Public Protector, are in my “imagination” and “frivolous”. Instead, his solution to fix Knysna was to bring the compromised Bredell with him for both to insist that Willemse and his co-rebel buddy, Councillor Peter Myers, must, basically, hand back the town against the Public’s wishes. When their demands were ignored, disciplinary hearings were instituted against both councillors. It’s happened enough that it can be called “DA style”.
FACTION POLITICS IS DESTROYING THE DA
Madikizela’s actions, permitted by James Selfe, are destroying the paragon of virtue that the DA has pretended to be. The loss through cost of marketing will be enormous.
Madikizela is ensuring that people of integrity will never become DA candidates because they will now know that acting morally will detrimentally affect their public service and career. Bonginkosi Madikizela and the faction he serves are damaging the Democratic Alliance. Success in the DA means choosing a party faction, not the Public – cutthroat loyalists are wanted.
Lennit Max was right but could’ve gone further – Bonginkosi Madikizela and the faction he serves are destroying the DA. The longer the DA, as a whole party, takes to remove the small group that controls it, the more votes they’ll lose in the elections in 2019.
Note: Refiloe Ntsekhe, DA Federal Executive member and the other DA Spokesperson, was offered opportunity to fact check and have Madikizela comment. She failed to respond.