Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: ALON SKUY​​
Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: ALON SKUY​​

Funzela Ngobeni, the DA’s regional chair in Johannesburg, has jumped ship and joined the political movement of his erstwhile boss, former mayor Herman Mashaba.

Ngobeni is the first high-profile DA politician to join Mashaba and his political party, which is due to be launched later in 2020.

The DA’s former CEO, Paul Boughey, who resigned in the wake of the party’s dismal election results in May 2019, is also working with Mashaba’s movement, which is called the People’s Dialogue.  

Ngobeni’s resignation comes two months before the DA is set to go to its early national congress in May and just more than a year before the local government elections.  

Ngobeni was the DA’s mayoral candidate in Johannesburg after Mashaba resigned dramatically in October 2019 as a result of internal DA party politics, and served as Mashaba’s finance MMC and leader of executive business in the council at the time of the then mayor’s resignation.  

Ngobeni’s resignation as caucus leader of the DA in Johannesburg would be effective on Tuesday, a letter sent to the caucus by Ngobeni on Monday morning said.  

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said the DA in the province was surprised when the “bombshell” resignation was dropped on them.

He said he had a close working relationship with Ngobeni and that he had always been a “very diligent, hard-working public representative”.

He said Ngobeni also contributed to stabilising the DA’s Johannesburg region in the short time he was its chair.

Ngobeni said in his resignation letter to the caucus and the party’s regional executive that he had no intention of dwelling on “too much negativity” as party members were already battling to come to terms with the trajectory the party had recently taken.

“Suffice to say I have taken the decision to join Herman Mashaba’s efforts, effective tomorrow, to build a new political alternative in SA which will put the people of our country at the centre of its efforts,” he said.

He said he was proud to have served the DA for almost a decade.

“Of late, we have undergone tremendous internal and external upheaval having to transition from being in government to being in opposition,” Ngobeni said.

The DA-led coalition government crumbled in the wake of Mashaba’s resignation and saw the return of a newly formed ANC-led coalition led by new mayor Geoff Makhubo.

“I trust and hope that you will continue to not only hold the ANC accountable in council, but to also steadfastly defend our pro-poor agenda and all the gains we made in the three years we were in government,” Ngobeni told the DA.

He said he believed that Mashaba’s initiative was the only way to achieve the objective of bringing real change for the residents of SA.  

Mashaba said in a statement on Monday that Ngobeni will lead the movement’s “essential campaign” to develop structures on the ground in communities that will take the planned party’s message to ordinary people.

He added that Boughey “brings immense strategic experience to the work of establishing a new political party”. 

He said more announcements will be made in the coming “days and weeks” of other “talented and skilled” South Africans who will be joining the party and that they will come from across the political party spectrum.

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za