DA congress: De Lille, Max go head-to-head

2015-04-17 17:29
(File: Eugene Gunning)

(File: Eugene Gunning)

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Cape Town - Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and former provincial police commissioner Lennit Max will this weekend go head-to-head for the position of Western Cape leader for the DA.

The DA is due to host the party’s Provincial Congress in Cape Town on Saturday, which will be attended by delegates from across the province for the purpose of electing new leadership.

The Western Cape conference will also include an address from current parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane at 10:00.

De Lille is one of two contenders for the position, having ruled herself out of the running for national leader earlier this week to focus on her provincial campaign.

And the former leader of the Independent Democrats said she was feeling confident ahead of the elective conference.

‘Well-placed’

“I choose not just to phone people or e-mail or SMS. I prefer to go to all of the regions personally. It allows people to ask questions,” she told News24 on Friday.

“I feel very confident because it’s the best way of personal interaction with people. It’s also open democracy at play, where both candidates can interact freely with whomever they wanted to interact with.”

De Lille has travelled over 4 000km to speak to her constituency personally. She was, though, more diplomatic when asked why she thought voters would vote for her over Max.

“We have to service our core voters, those who have put their faith and hope in the DA. Our core voters will help us to grow the face of the party.

“[But] I think I’m well placed to bring about change in all the municipalities in the Western Cape.”

‘Permission to win’

Max, meanwhile, has backed himself to be declared the winner of the provincial vote when the results are read out at 16:00 on Saturday.

“No one enters a race to lose. Sometimes you must give yourself the permission to win, and I think I’ve definitely given myself that permission,” the DA's spokesperson for state security told News24 on Friday.

“I’m very hopeful the people will support me. I have got a very strong backing.

“[But] in politics you must be carefully optimistic.”

Max felt his personal manifesto and eye for leadership would give him the advantage in pipping De Lille to the post.

“My manifesto is very clear. I would like to bring democracy back to the DA by means of debate. I’m very strong with the empowerment of women,” he said.

“I believe the visibility of leadership is crucial. In the areas where we are not governing, it is a generic complaint that they feel that they are being neglected.”

Rural areas

Both De Lille and Max identified the party’s exposure in the province’s rural municipalities as an area needing improvement.

The campaign has, thus, been primed around winning the votes of these otherwise elusive Western Cape districts.

“The areas where we are not in government at the moment is where we’re focused, so the municipalities in the rural areas,” Max continued.

“The DA has proven itself that it uses tax payer’s money to power our communities. Service delivery is the best in the Western Cape, with regards to the rest of the country.”

De Lille, too, expressed her love for the province’s rural people, and said the DA would be ‘wonderful’ in those wards where the party has historically lost.

“One of the reasons I put my name into the hat is I think there is an opportunity for the DA to govern all 30 municipalities,” she said.

“Over and above that, I love the rural areas. They’re real people and I think the DA’s wonderful in the rural areas.”

Future leadership

De Lille recently expressed her desire to focus on governing provincially, as the broader party gets ready to vote for a national leader in two weeks time following Helen Zille’s decision to step down.

While Max felt the position was never a personal goal of his, De Lille, a realistic candidate for the post, said it would be difficult to run campaigns for two separate posts simultaneously.

“I always serve my country in many capacities and I do think there are a lot of competent people in the DA," she said.

“[But] I have focused my energy now to becoming provincial leader.”

Max, meanwhile, was adamant in his desire to keep his duties in the Cape, after being asked whether running for national leader would interest him at any point in the future.

“No, no, I’m not interested to run as national leader. I am part of a political party and if the party decides to deploy me in other positions, that is up to the party,” he said.

“But for me, personally, provincial leader is my ultimate goal."

When asked the same question, De Lille said: "I’ve not cast my sights there. I actually plan to contest for [Cape Town] mayor again in 2016.”

‘One DA’

Were he to win, Max said the first thing on his agenda would be to ensure the party's provincial arm remained united after the vote.

“As from tomorrow [Saturday], before the result is available or made public, you will have a Max camp and a De Lille camp.

“After that, if I am the winner, I have to make sure that those camps don’t exist, and there will still be one DA team.

The DA’s Western Cape Congress starts at 09:00 on Saturday.

The programme for the day includes a variety of acts, a prize giving, notice of motions, the province's financial report, as well as a scheduled address by Mmusi Maimane.

The results of the vote will be read out at 16:00.

Follow News24 for more on the DA’s electoral conferences this month.

Read more on:    da  |  lennit max  |  patricia de lille  |  cape town  |  politics

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