The Democratic Alliance’s Dianne Kohler Barnard will face an internal disciplinary hearing next week related to her reposting of a Facebook comment praising former president PW Botha, the opposition party said on Friday.
“Dianne will have the opportunity to appear before it with legal representation.”
A social media storm erupted this week after it emerged the member of Parliament had, about two weeks ago, shared a Facebook post by journalist Paul Kirk, in which he declared: “Please come back PW Botha – you were far more honest than any of these [African National Congress] rogues, and you provided a far better service to the public…”.
Kohler Barnard has since apologised for her actions, saying she had not seen the sentiments made about the apartheid president.
Selfe said Kohler Barnard was formally notified of the decision to institute disciplinary action against her on Friday morning.
He said while the federal legal commission had drawn up the charges against her, “I strongly imagine they would be connected to bringing the party into disrepute and harming the interest of the party”.
He said the disciplinary process would take place with a committee assistant leading evidence and Kohler Barnard being given the opportunity to counteract or dispute the charges, including by producing evidence in mitigation.
Selfe said if Kohler Barnard was found guilty, there was a wide range of possible outcomes.
“The federal legal commission can recommend a penalty from termination of membership to admonishment.”
However, he said between these two possible rulings were a number of options including being declared unfit to hold public office for a period of time, a fine, forms of community service being imposed or demotion.
Selfe said he did not believe the situation around the Facebook reposting could be considered a crisis: “I don’t think it’s a crisis, I think it’s overstating… It was a grossly irresponsible and very damaging lapse of judgment of a senior member. It is almost inexcusable.
“She ought to have known better and she ought to have restrained her impulses,” he said.