JUST days before the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) elective congress, allegations of unfair campaigning have emerged, amid claims that Limpopo provincial leader Jacques Smalle was exerting "undue pressure" on delegates to support the re-election of federal chairman Wilmot James.
The DA congress is scheduled for the weekend, with several top positions up for grabs.
There was also controversy over campaigning and endorsement the last time the party held major internal elections, when Athol Trollip came up against Lindiwe Mazibuko for the post of parliamentary leader.
Controversial DA MP Masizole Mnqasela, who is taking on Mr James for his position, on Wednesday laid a formal complaint with the party’s federal legal commission against Mr Smalle for "violating an important section of the campaign and voting procedures".
Mr Smalle has formally endorsed Mr James for the post of federal chairman. However, central to Mr Mnqasela’s claims is that Mr Smalle said "the Limpopo provincial leadership" was endorsing Mr James, when DA rules state that "no structure or formation of the party may endorse any candidate".
"The Federal Legal Commission must investigate this conduct and the implications of Mr Smalle’s letter (endorsing Mr James) … I will appreciate if it could also be investigated, whether the entire executive committee of Limpopo province is party to this endorsement, as implied by Mr Smalle in his letter," Mr Mnqasela wrote.
"Mr Smalle, and the Limpopo provincial executive committee if they are party to this, have violated an important section of the campaign and voting procedures, and if allowed to continue with this kind of endorsement, it puts undue pressure on individual Limpopo delegates to sway their way of voting otherwise, in a manner that they would under normal circumstances not have voted."
However, Mr Smalle said on Wednesday that he had responded to Mr Mnqasela’s allegations and various concerns and that these would be dealt with through party structures.
"All I can say is that I do not agree with what he is saying … I stand as the provincial leader together with various other leaders in the province to endorse Wilmot James."
So far, six DA provincial leaders have come out in support of Mr James and a party insider said yesterday that Mr Mnqasela "was on the ropes because he cannot find anybody to endorse him".
However, it is understood that although Mr Trollip has not endorsed any candidate, he is likely to back Mr Mnqasela.
Last year, Mr Mnqasela backed Mr Trollip’s bid to retain his position as parliamentary leader, saying that Ms Mazibuko was too inexperienced and "not black enough" to lead the party in Parliament.