Charles Cilliers
3 minute read
20 May 2021
6:45 pm

Phumzile Van Damme quits as DA MP to escape ‘clique of individuals’

Charles Cilliers

The firebrand says she's not leaving parliament due to accusations of racism that have dogged the DA, but that she's fallen out with some people in its ranks.

Former DA MP Phumzile van Damme.

Longtime outspoken Democratic Alliance (DA) member Phumzile Van Damme announced her resignation as an MP for the official opposition on Thursday evening.

Although her official statement only says she is quitting as an MP, it was initially understood that she is also leaving the party. She later clarified that she would remain a DA member.

She said she would also not entertain speculation about her reasons for leaving, and added she would not enter into arguments with anyone in the DA about her reasons even if they chose to try to “destroy” her reputation.

ALSO READ: DA lauds outgoing MP Van Damme for ‘extraordinary service’

She did, however, make it clear that she was quitting due to her unhappiness with a “clique of individuals”.

The party’s former spokesperson and shadow minister of communications will now be focusing on writing her memoirs and continuing her efforts against misinformation.

She said she had no plans to join another party.

An embattled DA

The DA has found itself increasingly embattled in the wake of the fallout over its 2019 election results and accusations that it is no longer as welcoming of black leaders in its ranks. The party’s current leadership, which has come to dominate it, was concerned that it lost ground to the Freedom Front Plus among white voters, its traditional support base.

Mmusi Maimane resigned from the party following the departure of then Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba later in 2019. He criticised the DA for no longer being the vehicle that might potentially unite all South Africans, in his opinion.

Van Damme, the DA’s former spokesperson, in her statement drew attention to her achievement in leading the charge against disgraced British public relations firm Bell Pottinger, which eventually had to shut its doors for good due to its work for the controversial Gupta family in South Africa.

She has at times had a tense relationship with the DA. In 2019 there was speculation that the party was investigating her for an incident in June that year, when Van Damme punched a man in the head at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town because she considered him a “racist”.

She tweeted at the time that she had experienced racism and had punched the offender in an act of “self-defence”.

No doubt that and numerous other incidents will provide fascinating material for her autobiography.

At the time, she called 2019 her “annus horribilis” in the DA, which she would only be willing to discuss later.

Read her full statement below:

Phumzile Van Damme's resignation statement.

Phumzile Van Damme’s resignation statement.

Twitter users were already commenting on the departure of yet another established black leader from the DA.