THE shock resignation of DA Eastern Cape provincial chairwoman Veliswa Mvenya has sent the party into a tailspin, prompting panicked party bosses to rope in former leader Helen Zille to assist.
The DA’s top leadership, including Mmusi Maimane and Zille, was locked in a meeting yesterday in a bid to come up with strategies to convince Mvenya not to leave.
But Mvenya was not at the meeting and had switched off her phone.
Her resignation has to do with infighting within the party in the Eastern Cape – with relations between her and provincial leader Athol Trollip at an all-time low.
Mvenya’s departure will severely hamper the DA’s hopes of winning the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the upcoming local government elections and dent its attempts to make inroads into ANC-dominated areas in the Eastern Cape.
Trollip is the DA’s mayoral candidate in the metro.
Mvenya submitted her letter of resignation to the party’s Bhisho office yesterday afternoon.
The letter was then forwarded to DA federal council chairman James Selfe.
After she resigned, Mvenya sent a text message to a colleague in the legislature which read: “Unfortunately, I have just resigned from the DA.
“It was a painful decision to make but I had to. I am not selling my soul to the ANC, I will rather go to bed on an empty stomach or go back to teaching.”
At least seven independent sources, in the province and at the DA’s head office, confirmed her resignation.
Western Cape DA MPL Masizole Mnqasela said last night he had called Mvenya as soon as he heard the news.
“I can say on the record I am one of the people trying to talk her out of this,” he said.
“The organisation is busy looking into the best ways to manage this situation. Remember, people are allowed to be angry, and they vent their anger in different ways.
“We are talking to her to make her understand that we can resolve these issues.”
Mvenya is the second DA MPL to leave the party in less than a year after Dorothy Matikinca resigned from Bhisho and the party in July last year, accusing the party of racism.
Party insiders said Mvenya’s letter had shocked everyone.
“This is a heavy blow for the DA [ahead of] these local elections,” a senior party leader said.
The former teacher from Butterworth is credited with launching DA branches in rural villages around the province and contributing to the DA’s growth within black communities.
The party took 26% of the votes in the Eastern Cape in the 2014 general election.
Mvenya’s supporters in the party have previously accused Trollip of sidelining them from the DA’s candidate lists for the August 3 local government elections.
However, Trollip has said that those crying foul were rejected based on their performance.
Mvenya defied the DA provincial executive’s recommendation that she not stand for the position of provincial chairwoman in 2014 – which saw her defeat Edmund van Vuuren, who was the favoured candidate.
DA national spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said she was unable to comment on Mvenya’s resignation because she did not have all the facts.
“The matter will be dealt with by the provincial leader, Athol Trollip, when he returns to the Eastern Cape. He is currently in a workshop.”
Approached for comment, Trollip said: “I am in Cape Town until tomorrow . . . I don’t have all the information in this regard and cannot comment on this matter until I’ve got all the facts and spoken to the chairperson [Mvenya].”
Mvenya could not be reached for comment.