The DA is pushing ahead with its plans to retrench staff, but has denied it is facing financial trouble.
In an internal memorandum, the party ‘ s human resources department wrote its federal executive had initiated Section 189(a) of the Labour Relations Act.
The verified email said the party had taken the painful decision with the full awareness of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its employees.
DA deputy federal council chairperson Thomas Walters said processes with regards to retrenchment had been under way well before President Cyril Ramaphosa had declared a national lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in March.
When asked if the party was in a financial crisis, Walters said: “No and we have very strong systems managing that. The DA had a fully funded election campaign; will have permanent staff funded by our guaranteed income; have provided from that same guaranteed income for our political activities and that is excluding projected fundraising income.
“By any objective criteria we are exceptionally well-placed for a changing political landscape, early on.”
He added the decision to start a process of retrenchments was formally taken in mid-2018 and was informed by the DA’s last comprehensive organisational review.
“Simply put in business jargon, our business model was entering into the law of diminishing returns where past effective systems were increasingly not suited for expanded growth, changing technologies and increased opportunities for growth.”
Walters said retrenchments would not affect the party’s elective congress later in the year.
In the letter, the DA stated that as of Wednesday, its human resources department would be consulting with affected employees.
‘Decision is necessary’
“However, this decision is necessary to ensure we remain robust and an effective opposition party focused on accountability, growing our vote and remaining financially viable,” the emailed letter read.
“While the process may cause some disruption and anxiety, we take comfort in the resilience of our staff.”
Shortly after the elections last year, the party retrenched 51 employees after a poor performance at the polls.
The DA’s move to retrench more staff comes on the back of the National Treasury projecting that up to seven million South Africans may lose their jobs as a result of the nationwide lockdown, in its worst-case scenario. This would catapult South Africa’s unemployment rate to well over 50%.
The party has been on a mission to challenge the government’s policy on its business relief calling for clarity on the criteria a business needs to qualify. It is also currently involved in a legal battle with the state on the matter.