DA provincial leaders quiet on who should lead

2015-04-13 21:03
Helen Zille. (Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24)

Helen Zille. (Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24) ((Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24))

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Johannesburg - The DA's provincial leaders are not ready to pronounce who they think should lead the party now that Helen Zille has announced that she is bowing out.

However, majority of them do not see themselves standing for the top job.

Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip said he was still planning on standing for the position of federal chairperson at next month's congress.

"I made my announcement that I will be standing for the soon to be vacated federal chairperson position and that decision has not changed since Helen's announcement," he told News24.

Trollip said he intended standing for the position of chairperson so that he could be there for the party's transition, but Zille had "fast tracked" that when she announced that she would not be standing for re-election after eight years at the helm of the party.

Now it will be important to be there to support the new leader, he said.

Trollip was also nominated on Monday to be the mayoral candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay in next year's local government elections.

On who he thought should be the next opposition party's leader, he said it was premature to pronounce on that.

"I will be supporting a candidate who personifies and embodies non-racialism in the party," Trollip said, adding that race had become a default for anything that goes wrong in the country.

"I think we are best when we work together. I will vote for a candidate who best personifies that. That doesn't mean that the person has to be of any particular colour."

Shortly after Zille's announcement on Sunday there was speculation that DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane would be most likely to succeed her as party leader.

However, Maimane has been holding his cards close to his chest saying it was too soon to say whether he would stand and would have to consult his family and the DA.

On Sunday, DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said he was approached on Sunday morning and was seriously considering becoming a candidate for the position of leader. However, he also had someone in mind who he thought would be a good DA leader.

Two provincial leaders have put forward Maimane's name as a possibility.

North West DA leader Chris Hattingh said Maimane seemed to have wide acceptance.

"I think the name of Mmusi Maimane is coming out very loud...," he said.

"There is considerable support for Mmusi Maimane."

However, he said the next question to ask was who would surround Maimane in the federal structures, if he was to be elected leader.

‘Maimane would be a competent leader’

Limpopo DA leader Jacques Smalle agrees that Maimane would be a competent leader but so would current Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer and Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille.

"Those are the people who have good credentials and could hold the party together," Smalle said.

"I wouldn't mind a person like Mmusi Maimane, but if he doesn't put his name in I will have to see who else there is."

Meyer, however, on Monday said he would definitely not be standing for leader and De Lille said she was focusing on her campaign to become DA Western Cape leader. 

"I think the DA needs a younger leader. I'm happy where I currently am in the provincial legislature and I will support whoever is elected," Meyer said.

Meyer said it would be premature to say who he thinks should lead the party.

However, he had three criteria for the DA's new leader.

The new leader should be able to increase the electoral target of four million votes, reflect diversity and speak to the youth.

Free State DA leader Patricia Kopane, KwaZulu-Natal leader Sizwe Mchunu and Northern Cape leader Andrew Louw could not be drawn on who they think should lead the party, nor did they want to stand for the position saying they would rather focus on their respective provinces.

Kopane said she was standing uncontested in her own province as leader and with next year's local government election her focus would be on the Free State.

"I wouldn't be putting myself in that basket.

"I don't have any person in mind. I will support any leader who take the baton from Helen. It's not an easy position... [and] Helen has left a legacy," she said.

Kopane said she was not worried about who would lead the DA next saying there was a "pool of talented people".

Mchunu said he was not in a position to say who he would back.

"I'm not in a position to say who I will back. It will be by far premature and no one has declared that he or she will make themselves available."

He said he would not consider standing as he believed he had a role to play in KwaZulu-Natal.

Louw said he would wait for party processes to unfold but he would not be throwing his own name into the hat.

"I don't think at this stage there is a name I want to propose and I'm not putting my name in the hat. I will show support for the leader who is elected."

Mpumalanga leader Anthony Benadie could not be reached.

Nominations for the leaders has been extended by four days following Zille's announcement.

Nominations will close on April 24.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  helen zille  |  patricia de lille  |  cape town  |  politics

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