DA MPs go to war over bank account
Top DA leaders, including party leader John Steenhuisen and Federal Council Speaker Helen Zille, have been sitting for months on a confluence of serious allegations of alleged misuse of a party bank account for personal use by one of its high deputies.
Sunday World can reveal that two senior DA MPs went to war over allegations of misuse of funds from the party’s bank account, which belongs to the party’s southern constituency in Johannesburg.
It comes after Tsepo Mhlongo, who is the party’s shadow sports minister, filed a complaint in July last year accusing fellow MP Manny de Freitas of allegedly running a constituency bank account years after the party ordered the closure of these accounts.
Party constituencies had bank accounts where donations were deposited until the organization in 2010 ordered them closed after suspecting that some of the accounts were being used as piggy banks by leaders.
It is alleged that De Freitas, the DA’s shadow tourism minister, only shut down the account after Mhlongo complained in July about its continued existence, raising questions about the number of transactions the account had gone through that n were not subject to party checks and balances.
Last year, Mhlongo wrote to party leaders, including Zille and Dion George, federal finance chairman. Gauteng party leader Solly Msimang is also aware of Mhlongo’s complaint.
In the July complaint, which Sunday World saw, Mhlongo asked George if constituencies were allowed to operate bank accounts.
“Constituencies cannot manage their own accounts. The board-approved policy should be amended. Constituency accounts have been closed over time and replaced with ring fenced constituency accounts where constituencies can keep funds. This [was done] for accounting purposes and allows the party to properly account for all of its money,” he said at the time.
Mhlongo has since written to some of the party leaders to inquire about the status of the case. In September last year, Mhlongo wrote to Zille, saying De Freitas was intimidating whistleblowers.
“I provided evidence and more information regarding Manny de Freitas having a constituency account. Within five days of raising the matter, the bank [account] was closed,” he said.
Zille replied at the time that she would take up the matter “as a matter of urgency”. George, for his part, had told Mhlongo in an email at the end of September that “Dennis [Pretorius, Gauteng provincial finance chair] asked Manny to obtain from the bank confirmation of the date of closure of the account”.
In November, Mhlongo wrote to Zille again, saying it had been four months since he had complained about De Freitas and asking “please update me on the status of these serious allegations which need to be dealt with from urgently within the party”. Zille replied that the matter had been referred to the party’s disciplinary structure, the Federal Legal Commission.
In the latest email, which was written earlier this month, Mhlongo again asked for progress on his complaint. Zille, Steenhuisen and De Freitas had not responded to requests for comment at press time.
The allegations against De Freitas are also contained in a resignation letter – dated November 2021 from the party’s former posters coordinator in Johannesburg South, Jaques van Rensburg.
Van Rensburg said that during his time as president of Ward 23, he raised ‘hundreds of thousands’ and 50,000 rand for De Freitas to contest a regional congress, all of which were deposited into the account in question .
“I only learned later, after the DA fundraising webinar, that this is not an official account. In my opinion, Manny de Freitas was given a platform to use the constituency south of JHB for his personal agenda,” he said.
To follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. To subscribe to Sunday World, Click here.