AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo will lose his DA card if he loses an appeal against his criminal convictions, party leader Helen Zille has said.
She said this was made clear to him in a discussion he had with Democratic Alliance Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip.
“In a private meeting with the King, Athol unpacked the DA’s commitment to constitutionalism; to a market economy; and to the principles of accountability,” Zille said today.
“Athol explained that if the appeal court upholds the King’s criminal conviction, he will lose his DA membership.”
Zille defended the decision to allow him to join the party.
“Politics involves converting opponents to support your cause, not creating impenetrable barriers to entry,” the DA leader said in her online newsletter SA Today.
“If we were determined to subject every new supporter to an ideological litmus test, we would still be the 1.7 percent party we were in 1994.”
Trollip announced last week that Dalindyebo had joined the party after a meeting to discuss the party’s values and constitution.
The ANC said it was “better off” without Dalindyebo and his “hysterical paroxysms” that attempted to undermine its integrity and leadership.
“We wish him all the best in his political wilderness, because he will need it,” Eastern Cape African National Congress secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane said at the time.
The SA Communist Party said Dalindyebo’s decision had to be understood in the context of his appeal against a 15-year jail term on various charges, including attempted murder.
“The marriage between the DA and the king of AbaThembu is actually a marriage of desperate parties; the king desperate to escape a jail term and the DA desperate to gain black votes,” the Eastern Cape SACP said in a statement.
In 2009, Dalindyebo was convicted of 10 crimes including culpable homicide, arson and kidnapping, committed on his farm between June 1995 and January 1996.
According to court papers, the king had ordered for Nocingile Sonteya and her six children to be kidnapped, to force her husband Stokwana to come to him to pay fines. Their three homesteads were burned down.
The High Court in Mthatha found that people feared that if the king was disobeyed or displeased, offenders and their family would be evicted by setting their homes alight.
The court found Dalindyebo “brutally and savagely assaulted, and caused to be assaulted” people believed to have committed crimes without being given a fair trial.
He ordered the arrest and assault of Saziso Wafa, which resulted in his death, and tried to convince Wafa’s father not to report the death to police, to conceal the cause of death and to not launch legal action.
He was sentenced to in effect 15 years in jail and was out on bail pending an appeal.
The Star newspaper recently reported that the appeal could soon be heard after the high court had ordered for a court record to be prepared and submitted to the Supreme Court of Appeal within 60 days.
According to the report, two reasons existed for the delay in the appeal. The king had brought an unsuccessful application for a review of his conviction, and the court record of the criminal case had gone missing. It had since been found.
The king handed a petition to officials of President Jacob Zuma’s office at the Union Buildings two weeks ago to protest against orders to remove him as king.
“He flushes people like condoms. Like yesterday. He thinks he can flush kings, he flushes his ministers like condoms,” Dalindyebo said on July 10, a day after Zuma announced a Cabinet reshuffle.
The king’s brother, Chief Daludumo Mtirara, recently told Sapa the royal family was waiting for the government to process documents confirming that Dalindyebo had been removed as head of the family.
“The family are waiting for the government to process the documents confirming that he has been removed,” Mtirara said.
“One the government has done its work, the royal family will sit and identify a suitable candidate to take over as king, as is our custom. We are guided by custom.”
Zille meanwhile welcomed the criticism.
“It is one of the factors that ensure we are never tempted to erase the fine line between pragmatism and principle. In politics, pragmatism must also have a high price (because principle always does). This helps us walk the tightrope,” she said.
She said Dalindyebo’s decision to join the party took them by surprise and they had had two choices — to publicly accept or reject him.
Dalindyebo was “more enthusiastic” than ever to join after the discussion with Trollip, Zille said.
“And we welcomed him. After all, we reckoned, no one else who joins the DA as an ordinary member is subject to an ideology test or a “due diligence” investigation. That hurdle only comes if you wish to become a DA public representative. There is a huge difference.”
She said it was not easy getting the balance right between remaining ideologically pure while growing quickly enough to win general elections.
“In every election we seek votes from people who have never voted for us before, and who have often vehemently opposed us. There is nothing cynical or opportunistic about this,” she said.
The party’s core mandate was to win elections.
“Of course there is a risk in growing at our current rapid rate…Time will tell whether we were right or wrong. There are many calculated risks in politics.”
Zille said the party “did their calculations carefully”.
“We were prepared to give the king the benefit of the doubt, and open the door in deep rural South Africa to advancing the values and principles of the ‘open, opportunity society for all’. Now that the door is open, we will walk through it.”
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