DA leaders reject ‘culture of harassment’ claims


Cape Town – Contenders for top leadership positions in the Democratic Alliance on Saturday collectively rejected allegations of a culture of crude sexual harassment in the party that were made in anonymous e-mail sent out a week before its elective congress.

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, his main challenger for the post of DA national leader Wilmot James and Athol Trollip, who is running for federal chairman, dismissed the e-mail as slanderous and destructive.

“Our respective campaign teams are aware that an anonymous email was sent to some federal congress delegates yesterday (on Friday) morning. The e-mail contains a series of slurs and libellous claims about various DA leaders and their private lives.

“We condemn this e-mail and its anonymous author in the strongest terms. This is negative, false and destructive and it does nothing but harm the interests of the party that we are both running to lead and serve. We reject it entirely, and suggest that congress delegates do the same,” they said in a joint statement.

The e-mail uses the name Tom Jeffries in both the outgoing and incoming addresses but purports to be from a woman who was one of several used by men in the DA “to be their playthings”.

“I am one such person and despite raising my concerns I was brushed aside by a system that protects men that use their power to get away with the worst misogyny against women,” it reads, before accusing a host of prominent DA MPs and office bearers of extra-marital affairs.

The author claims to have penned the mail as a caution to delegates choosing “the people you believe should take the reigns (sic) of your party”.

The DA will hold its federal congress in Port Elizabeth on May 9-10. Maimane, James and two little-known party members are vying for the post of national leader after Helen Zille announced last month that she would be stepping down after eight years at the helm.