The leadership of the DA's caucus in the City of Cape Town said it found it strange that five of its members decided to resign shortly before the council was expected to deal with corruption.
Shaun August, who was the chief whip, dropped his resignation bombshell in Thursday's council meeting shortly after embattled Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille delivered a speech in which she went on the counter-attack against allegations of corruption against her, saying they were part of a smear campaign and a "racist bully attack".
Suzette Little, Siya Mamkeli, Greg Bernardo and Thulani Stemele followed suit. Addressing the media after their exit, they accused the DA of racism.
"We're just gatvol," August said.
According to DA Cape Town metro chairperson Grant Twigg, no charges of racism were laid against any of its caucus members.
Mayoral committee member JP Smith said the disgruntled councillors were now making those claims "to deflect from what is at hand".
Former members not implicated in report
And what was at hand in Thursday's council meeting was a report by law firm Bowmans into malfeasance at the council which was expected to be discussed behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon.
De Lille is implicated in the classified report, as are some of the City's officials. The report recommends criminal investigations, among other remedies.
Twigg said his former colleagues were not implicated in the report.
"Deciding today to resign, when we have an item on corruption on the agenda, that is surprising," Twigg said.
However, Twigg said the party had expected something to happen, as the whole public gallery had been booked out.
Soon after the departure of August et al, the crowd in the public gallery petered out.
'Our relief at their resignation exceeds their relief at resigning'
"You must accept that there were some theatrics today," Smith said.
Smith said the corruption allegations against De Lille and others were a test for the party.
"And to our credit, when we realised something was wrong, we did something about it," Smith said.
"You can now engage in as much race-baiting and hate-mongering as you want, it is not going to change the facts.
"Our relief at their resignation exceeds their relief at resigning."
DA Cape Town caucus chairperson Mzuvukile Nikelo said: "Whoever is connected to corruption will have to face the music.
"We will continue with the work of government. Clean governance is part of our high target in terms of delivery," he said.
Twigg denied that there was a crisis within the DA.
"There's no crisis in the caucus," he added.
"The majority of our colleagues continue to fight corruption wherever it rears its head."
Smith said Capetonians should be proud that they have a party in charge that is willing to do what needs to be done, however painful it is.
"It has not been a vote garnering process," Smith said. "It has been painful."