DA leadership hopeful Mbali Ntuli calls for online congress to be scrapped
In the running for the leadership of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mbali Ntuli has made a plea for the party to rule out the possibility of holding its elective congress online at the end of October, saying that by hosting the critical event online, many of the party’s members would be disadvantaged due to technological barriers to entry.
Ntuli said that holding the election on 30 October 2020 is “irresponsible”, with many councillors and members set to convene in halls and take public transport to participate in the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) that must be convened prior to the vote.
NTULI CONCERNED ONLINE CONGRESS WILL DISADVANTAGE MEMBERS
Following the DA’s Federal Executive’s decision in may to hold the online congress, several party members raised concerns that the format would disadvantage a great number of people. Branches have completed AGMs, part of which includes the election of delegates to represent their branches at congress (online or otherwise) by 31 August.
Ntuli said that should the online congress go ahead, many opportunities for fair and free voicing of opinions and vision will be lost, all for the sake of hurriedly electing a leader in an effort to “tick boxes”.
“We need to have difficult conversations about who we are, who we fight for, and how we are still able to be a unified party,” she said.
“We can’t have those difficult conversations if we have an online congress and contribute to really shaping what our party looks like in the future.”
“I’m saying that we should reject the online congress, because it will rob us of the ability to have these conversations. Instead, it will be reduced to a tick-boxing exercise where we just choose a leader.”
“Congresses are supposed to be about so much more than just the election of leaders, they are meant to be a place where every single member can have the opportunity to give voice to what they believe we should be doing.”
DA LIMPOPO TO GIVE THE DIGITAL PLATFORM A GO
The DA’s Limpopo leader, Jacques Smalle, said his province was ready to hold branch AGMs by means of various digital tools.
“One of them will be online or data stuff. We will definitely test the system over the next five weeks or six weeks,” he told TimesLIVE
“We are planning to test the system and if we feel that the system is doable, we will proceed, if we feel that the system is not doable, we won’t proceed.”
“I am one of those people, I don’t say no before I have tried it, we are definitely going to try it,” he said.
Ntuli who has recently recovered from COVID-19, said that some of the members who would need to go to great lengths to attend the meetings might not be as lucky as she was should they contract COVID-19.
“I have just started recovering from COVID 19. It is the most sick I have been in my entire life. I am lucky that I am young, have access to great medical care.Our members may not be so lucky. We shouldn’t put them at risk by making them go to AGMs. Reject this online congress!”
“Holding AGMs in August during the peak of COVID-19 will put our members &staff who will have to oversee these AGMs at a risk of contracting COVID-19.”
“We will be asking members to get into taxis, sit in a hall, hold an AGM all so we can just elect a leader in October. It is irresponsible.”