Cape Town – The DA’s federal legal commission will investigate reports that Mayco member Xanthea Limberg claimed to have had a degree on her CV, while she currently does not hold one.
On Wednesday, the Weekend Argus exclusively revealed that Limberg submitted a summarised CV that stated she has a degree in politics and public policy administration from UCT and a BA degree in policy studies from Unisa. The CV was submitted to the party’s provincial executive committee in January for her nomination as an executive member.
Limberg, responding to questions sent to her at the time, said the CV was a summary and that the party had her full CV which stated that she did not complete her degrees.
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille said Limberg would be treated the same as former Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela who resigned, both as the province’s leader of the party and from the cabinet, after it was revealed that he misrepresented his qualifications.
“I have done exactly what I did with both Bonginkosi Madikizela and Marius Koen, and referred it directly to the Federal Legal Commission,” she said.
Zille added DA leader John Steenhuisen had instructed that the qualifications of every DA public representative be independently verified.
“We are busy sourcing an independent service provider to undertake this significant task for us,” added Zille.
Further investigation by the Weekend Argus revealed that then-mayor Patricia de Lille had also in a speech announced that Limberg holds a degree from UCT. De Lille handed Limberg her first Mayco member position in 2014.
“She has a degree in public administration from the University of Cape Town and has been politically active for almost a decade,” said De Lille at the time.
Yesterday, De Lille said “I got it from her CV”, and declined to comment further.
Responding to questions, Limberg said she was not consulted when the speech was drafted.
“I did not draft this statement, nor was I consulted on the content. The statement does not discuss the qualifications of the other MMCs, which proves that information about qualifications was not requested of the MMCs, or required for the drafting of this statement.
“If it had been, the statement would have reflected that councillor Johannes van der Merwe, holds a PhD in finance, and Benedicta van Minnen is a qualified lawyer, to name two,” she said.
Limberg also served on the Cape Peninsula University of Technology council as a City of Cape Town representative over three years ago. Under her name on the university’s archives and a 2015 graduation booklet, it is written that Limberg holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (B Soc. Sc) degree from UCT.
Responding to this, Limberg said she never wrote the profile.
“I note what is stated on the CPUT website. I am not the author thereof. I served on the CPUT council as a public representative of the municipality, and there was no requirement for qualifications to do so.”
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said they accepted what they received from the organisation Limberg represented, which is the City of Cape Town.
“Many CPUT Council members represent external bodies like the City of Cape Town or are ministerial representatives. In that case, we accept that appointee based on the internal processes already conducted by that organisation,” said Kansley.
Limberg’s degree again appears, this time in an international summit. Her profile on the South Africa-Italy summit, where she was a participant, says she holds a degree in politics and public policy from UCT.
She denied knowing the profile. “I may have attended the event but I have never seen this profile document for this summit and definitely did not draft it.”
Unlike Madikizela, who admitted to not correcting his biography on the Western Cape’s government website, Limberg denies knowledge of biographies of her by institutions mentioned above.
UCT’s Nombuso Shabalala also confirmed that Limberg holds no degree from the university.
“We confirm that Ms Limberg does not hold a degree from UCT. We did not have knowledge of the claims – the university will not be taking action against her,” said Shabalala.
Mayor Dan Plato has come in defence of Limberg, saying she never lied about her qualifications.
“The matter being referred to has already been clarified by the DA provincial chairperson who was clear that Ms Limberg had not misrepresented her qualifications. Ms Limberg has also been very clear that she is still pursuing her studies,” he said.
Zille said she would not have liked the party to be dealing with qualification scandals ahead of the local government elections.
“Obviously, it would be far preferable not to be in this situation. But the DA has strong systems and fair processes and we will handle all these matters consistently through the federal legal commission. Things do go wrong in organisations. The big test is whether they have good processes and strong internal institutions to deal with them. The DA does.”
Political analyst Asanda Ngoasheng said: “This whole saga also brings into question the recruitment processes of the DA. Xanthea Limberg even sat on a university council based on having a university qualification. That council position could have gone to a more qualified candidate had she been honest about her lack of a degree.
“Xanthea might get a lighter sentence because of this as the DA might want to prevent the loss of more people of colour.”