Kohler Barnard has been mired in controversy and labelled a racist after she shared a social media post saying the country was better under the rule of apartheid president PW Botha. The sanctions brought against her could be a drop in salary and a fine of R20 000. She has already been demoted to a less prominent position in the DA.
Kohler Barnard apologised for “stupidly” sharing the post and was moved from lead party representative in the portfolio committee on police to a deputy position in the department of public works. But she was not present at meetings of the public works committee this week and the committee secretary said no apologies had been received.
The secretary added Kohler Barnard may not yet have been added to the roll call list. MP John Steenhuisen said Kohler Barnard was flying overseas with him this week for inter-parliamentary business. MP Anchen Dreyer, the chairperson of the DA caucus and lead member in the public works oversight committee, would continue to hold the fort.
Chairperson of the DA’s federal executive council James Selfe said he was trying to convene a meeting of the council to deliberate the terms of Kohler Barnard’s future in parliament by the end of the month.
“Until such time as a decision is made, all we have in front of us at the moment is a recommendation.” It has been reported that Kohler Barnard struck a deal with the federal executive council last week. It included her being stripped of her whip position in parliament, which would mean a drop of up to R50 000 in her annual salary and a fine of R20 000.
ANC parliamentary caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said yesterday the only sanction that should be considered by the DA federal council was dismissing Kohler Barnard. Mothapo said it would be “indefensible and an insult to the people” of South Africa for her to continue to serve as a parliamentarian and that it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for the DA to prove it was not “harbouring racists”.
“We believe the applicable sanction for this particular conduct should be expulsion from parliament,” he said. “She must not continue to serve in parliament, which is founded on the vision of the democratic constitution.”
Last week, Kohler Barnard pleaded guilty to charges that she had brought the party into disrepute and failed to adhere to social media policy. She landed in hot water after sharing a Facebook post regarding crime in which a journalist said South Africa was better off under apartheid president PW Botha.
It is believed her accreditation as a full member of the public works committee has yet to be formally tabled through parliamentary processes.