Phumzile Van Damme has announced her resignation as a member of Parliament and member of the Democratic Alliance (DA). [UPDATE: She has since clarified that she remains a DA member.]
In a statement on Thursday (20 May), Van Damme said her resignation “was not an easy decision to make and it is done with a heavy heart.”
‘Clique of individuals’
She added, “To be clear, I will not be joining another political party nor will I be using my time to launch attacks on the DA.
“I leave on my own terms, having made my own decision. However, in a climate of rumours and the need to create heroes and villains, my resignation as an MP is not because the DA is a so-called ‘racist party’ but because of a clique of individuals.”
Van Damme vowed not to delve into the circumstances of her decision “in order not to make the good women and men still in the DA suffer.
DA accepts Phumzile Van Damme’s resignation
DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube issued a statement shortly after Van Damme’s announcement. She said the party had accepted the resignation and wished Van Damme well in her future endeavours.
“We extend our best wishes to Phumzile and thank her for her extraordinary service to the DA in Parliament and by extension, the country,” Gwarube said.
“From taking on Bell Pottinger, fighting for an independent SABC and her tenure as DA National Spokesperson – Phumzile demonstrated her talent as a political communicator and a parliamentarian.”
Van Damme, who said she was leaving the DA “with a sore heart,” stressed that she will not be drawn into “any negativity that may emanate from the DA.”
“Should the party choose to destroy my reputation and impugn my character, I will not engage in a back-and-forth,” she said, adding that she will use her time to write her memoirs and continue her work against misinformation in society.
‘Legal battle’ with DA
Signs that all was not well between Van Damme and the DA were apparent as recently as early May when she posted a Twitter thread about her “legal battle” with the party.
“For three years a blatant lie has been repeatedly perpetuated that I beat up a kid at the V&A. I kept quiet and endured the added trauma of being portrayed as a violent brute who beats up children. This look like a child to you?” she wrote.
“I have kept quiet and not corrected this because I was told that I would not be punished for self-defence. I was told not to report the matter to SAPS. Right now I’m in a legal battle with the DA which is intent on punishing me for defending myself while a MAN reached and grabbed me.
“Let me not say ‘the DA,’ rather ‘some in the DA.’ I will not tell you the psychological abuse I have had to endure at the hands of those people and the hours in therapy. My silence has not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. Speak up. Always.”
*This article was updated following Van Damme’s clarification that she remains a member of the DA.