Zille to stand to end factionalism

2014-05-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Helen Zille will probably make herself available for another term as the DA leader in an attempt to settle the current faction fights in the party.

She said yesterday if she were to announce her intention to retire now, faction forming in the party would escalate, hence she would probably make herself available again as party leader to prevent such an issue ahead of the critical 2016 municipal elections.

Her statements followed a week of internal strife in the DA, sparked by the sudden vacancy created by Lindiwe Mazibuko, who announced that she would put her political career on hold to study for a year at Harvard University in the U.S.

Several senior DA members yesterday told sister paper Beeld there is a deliberate attempt among DA leaders to block Zille from getting another term as leader. This faction also wants to block any chance Mmusi Maimane, currently the DA spokesperson, may have from becoming the parliamentary leader.

Several senior DA members, including eight who had attended last week’s federal executive meeting in Johannesburg, said the public mud slinging in the party was motivated by lot more than just who would succeed Mazibuko in Parliament. At the heart of the issue is who will take over the party leadership from Zille.

Federal executives, including those who do not always agree with Zille, however, defended her yesterday, saying she did not, as was reported by Sunday Times, tell the executive she had “made” and “saved” Mazibuko.

These quotes were fabricated to launch attacks on Zille.

Fred Nel, a DA spokesperson in Gauteng, and senior DA MP Dion George, said they stood by Zille in this instance. “I am not Helen-boytjie, but even if I don’t like you, if you are wrongly quoted I will say so,” said George.

A senior DA member who wanted to remain anonymous said a faction in the DA leadership are unhappy with Zille’s backing of Maimane.

Sources in the DA agree Maimane has Zille’s blessing to become the next parliamentary leader. If he does well in Parliament he may take over the leadership mantle from her, as the post gives him a large national platform.

The member said the battle is all about the party leadership, but members felt it was undemocratic for Zille to give Maimane her blessing to succeed her.

The senior member said the faction is hoping to find an alternative to Maimane by bringing Zille down. “They have tried their best to get rid of Mmusi, but could not. Now they are sowing discord in the party about Helen in the hope that if she falls, then Mmusi would also fall.”

Nominations for the parliamentary leadership opened yesterday and close on Monday. The new leader will be elected on May 29.

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