Gwen Ngwenya. Picture: FACEBOOK
Gwen Ngwenya. Picture: FACEBOOK

The DA’s policy chief Gwen Ngwenya has resigned from that position a month before the party is expected to unveil its critical 2019 election manifesto.

Business Day understands that her resignation follows differences between Ngwenya and the party’s leadership over its stance on broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE).

Her resignation was confirmed by senior leaders of the party on Thursday. Ngwenya will remain in the party and continue to serve as an MP.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi thanked Ngwenya for the work she had done on the party's policy platform, which would culminate in the launch of the manifesto.

“She will continue to serve the party in her portfolio,” Malatsi said. 

Sources indicated that the disagreement was over her stance on BBBEE policy, which is closely linked to that of the Institute of Race Relations — that race should not be a factor. They indicated that DA leaders said the DA was “not a think tank” but a political party.

In an e-mail seen by Business Day, Ngwenya expressed frustration over the fact that she received little feedback on her policy proposals.

Ngwenya was appointed the party's head of policy at the beginning of 2018. The year was,  however, a turbulent policy one as the DA grappled with its empowerment policies. The party was sent into a spin after Ngwenya announced in August that it had ditched BBBEE from its economic policy.

This was initially disputed by DA federal council chair James Selfe, who said DA still believed that race was a proxy for disadvantage in SA.

After a public debate in August, Ngwenya and Selfe issued a joint statement saying that the DA rejected the ANC’s BBBEE policy and would offer an alternative model of “real, broad-based empowerment”.

Since then the issue has largely remained off the public radar.

The party's economic proposal for the 2019 elections was expected to be revealed at the manifesto launch.

Ngwenya referred Business Day to the party for comment on the matter.