Zille is DA’s presidential candidate after Ramphele blunder

2014-02-18 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Western Cape premier, Helen Zille, is now the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate.

This announcement follows a meeting by the DA Federal Executive over the weekend.

James Selfe, chair of the DA Federal Executive, yesterday explained that in terms of the DA’s constitution, the party leader is ex-officio entitled to occupy the first position on the candidate lists for the National Assembly or on the provincial list of any province.

The DA constitution also makes provision for the party leader to be the premier or the mayoral candidate for any province or municipality.

“All that happened, is that Zille has referred to this clause in the party’s constitution. She will occupy the first position on our national list and thus be the ‘presidential candidate’,” Selfe said.

This decision was taken after the DA’s disastrous alliance with Agang’s leader Dr Mamphela Ramphele, which lasted only five days. Zille announced that Ramphele would become the DA’s presidential candidate for the 2014 elections, but Ramphele unexpectedly withdrew herself two weeks ago.

Had she stuck to her agreements, the DA executive would have had to motivate for Ramphele to be in the first position on the list over the weekend. Instead, Zille stated her case and the DA accepted that the void had to be filled.

A DA MP anonymously said it was decided to simply approve the decision to make Zille the DA’s presidential candidate.

“We want to guard against uncertainty this close to the election and unanimously decided to accept the party leader’s explanation,” he said.

Nothing came of the sparks that many expected to fly at the meeting. Earlier Athol Trollip, the DA leader in the Eastern Cape, had admitted that he was opposed to the decision.

Selfe described the discussions as “very constructive”. Party members were largely assured by the very complete explanation of the events that led to the situation.

Another member of the committee said Zille’s opponents were “totally tame”.

“It was decided to simply approve the decision in view of the election.”

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