Phumzile van Damme’s resignation a surprise: Political analyst

Image: Reuters

Phumzile van Damme was placed on special leave by the party in November 2020  without consultation.

Political analyst Dirk Coetzee says the timing of Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme’s resignation is surprising.

On Thursday Van Damme announced her resignation as an MP but said will stay as a party member, she stressed that she will not be joining another political party.

She was placed on special leave by the party last year November without consultation and she had several run-ins with the party leader John Steenhuisen.

She resigned on Thursday as an MP.

Coetzee says there are many reasons that could have contributed to Van Damme’s resignation.

“It was still a surprise when it was announced because there wasn’t something so urgently at the moment that is taking place. We all know that she had serious medical conditions and that was the reason that John Steenhuisen used in order to put her on long leave. But at the same time, over time there were incidents between her and the leadership of the DA.”

‘Not joining another party’

In a statement released on Thursday, Van Damme said, “I have had a full and life-shaping journey as a Democratic Alliance (DA) activist, staff member, the longest-serving National Spokesperson from 2014 to 2018, and a Shadow Minister, which I put my all into.”

Van Damme says she will not be joining another party.

“To be clear, I will not be joining another political party, nor will I be using my time to launch attacks on the DA.”

Van Damme explained that she is leaving the DA “not because the DA is a so-called ‘racist party’ but because of a clique of individuals”.

Video: Phumzile van Damme resigns from the DA

Party wishes her well

The DA says it has accepted her resignation. She has been a member of the National Assembly since 2014, mainly serving on the portfolio committee on Communications.

DA spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube says the party wishes her well.

“We extend our best wishes to Phumzile and thank her for her extraordinary service to the DA in Parliament and by extension, the country. From taking on Bell Pottinger, fighting for an independent SABC and her tenure as DA National Spokesperson – Phumzile demonstrated her talent as a political communicator and a parliamentarian,” said DA National Spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube, in a statement.

‘Big blow for DA’

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says the loss of  Van Damme is a big blow for the DA. He says van Damme has been beleaguered for some time in the party.

Mathekga says however she has several options available to her, adding that her departure from the party is significant, especially in light of the setbacks it has recently suffered.

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