DA to elect interim Western Cape leader – Who’s in the running?

2017-02-25 07:16
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Cape Town - Five DA members go into this weekend’s Western Cape leadership race following a bruising two-week contest rocked by scandals involving leaked party documents and allegations of race-based campaigning.

The party’s provincial stronghold is holding a congress in Worcester on Saturday, to elect an interim leader. The position was left vacant by Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille who abruptly resigned on January 30, a year after being elected to the post.

READ: DA man resigns after false documents allegedly leaked

Current acting leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and Cape Town metro chairperson Shaun August are said to be the frontrunners for the job. The latter’s chances have taken a significant knock after he was implicated in the leaked documents saga.

Dr Arlene Adams, Lennit Max and David Langeveld are the other candidates in the race. All will make their pitch at the congress from 14:30.

Madikizela, who is Western Cape human settlements MEC, told News24 this week he feels confident, despite accusing some of his running mates of using race to discredit him.

READ: Race row rocks Western Cape DA

He said he was shocked by De Lille’s resignation, but feels he is the only candidate with a realistic chance as he plans to consolidate the province's leadership vacuum.

The 42-year-old joined the party 10 years ago. He worked as stakeholder relations manager in then-Cape Town mayor Helen Zille's office in 2006.

He worked as a parking attendant at Ratanga Junction in Cape Town, in the SAPS's human resources department, and taught computer skills for a private firm.

He was a Khayelitsha Development Forum executive member in 2003 and an ANC member before that.

"It is true that historically the coloured population is the majority in the province, but that's not the point," he told News24 on Monday.

"If you look at different provinces, we are leaders of different races, we are a party that embraces everyone. In all other provinces, black people are the majority. But our leaders in those provinces are white, coloured and black."

Pro-rich perception 'nonsense'

Madikizela said his strategy as provincial leader in the run-up to the 2019 general elections was threefold: to consolidate support in the province, to unite the province, and to make inroads in traditional ANC areas.

He wanted to make sure the DA retained its Western Cape support base, given the perception that the party was venturing into other provinces.

Madikizela rejected the idea that the party only looked out for the rich. The party used more than 55% of its budget in traditionally-poor areas, he said.

"In terms of the law, you cannot spend public money in rich areas. I don't deal with Constantia, or rich areas. Almost my entire budget is spent in poor areas.

"This government is doing a lot more than any other ANC-run province in poor areas."

Shaun August

August’s candidacy may have taken a knock this week, after he was referred to the party’s ethics committee. He, De Lille, and a party researcher faced questions over their alleged roles in the leaking of doctored documents to Rapport newspaper.

READ: DA metro leader denies guilt in leak saga

He is the current metro chairperson for the party in Cape Town, and the party’s chief whip in the provincial legislature.

August and De Lille have a long-standing working relationship dating back to their time as members of the Independent Democrats. The party merged with the DA in 2010.

August rejected Madikizela’s claim that he or others were running based on their race.

"It's bullshit. Nobody is talking about race. The race is to win on Saturday. That's the only race we are in.”

'No longer a white party'

August denied the ANC’s perception that the party favoured middle-class citizens at the expense of poorer communities. The ANC needed to prove these claims because "they never read the facts".

He cited the full-flush toilets project, the ceiling retrofit and electricity rollout as proof of the party's commitment to improving townships.

He agreed that the party needed to make inroads in traditional ANC strongholds like Khayelitsha, and would do so by continuing to deliver services.

"It is no longer perceived as a white party, as the ANC likes to push, but it is a party for everyone."

The province's rural areas were a concern to him. Young people in these areas needed skills training and programmes to help them get into colleges.

Arlene Adams

Dr Arlene Adams, 52, is currently a councillor in the Cape Town metro, and also serves on the party's provincial council.

She joined the DA in 2012, having worked as an academic and researcher in the field of psychology. Her interest is in creating policy.

She believes her understanding of South Africa's psycho-social make-up will help her deal with the province's problems. An added advantage is having grown up in Manenberg.

"As South Africans, we need to start looking at ourselves as human beings, before we see race. We are deeply polarised in terms of white, black, coloured, Indian, and rich, poor.”

Adams said she is tired of seeing articles showing that poor, black people are still earning four times less than their white counterparts. The issue needs to be solved at a national level.

She was saving her policy proposals for her speech on Saturday.

She would not be drawn on the current leadership battle engulfing the party in the Western Cape. All political parties had power struggles, she said.

As a relatively newer member to the party, she sees the future with fresh eyes and is not hindered by trying to settle old, political scores, she said.

David Langeveld

Dark horse David Langeveld, 67, is a party member in Cape Town's southern suburbs region.

He currently holds no office, but helps residents of the Retreat, Steenberg, and Southfield wards. Langeveld's history with the party goes back to 1989, when he joined the then-Democratic Party.

He worked as a councillor in the Northern Cape Postmansburg municipality for six years, before leaving to work in the mining industry. He rejoined the party in 2006.

His strategy would be to double the party's branches in rural areas, and get younger members in to run them.

"I want to get the youth in. At my age now, in 2029, by that time I will have enough youth to come in and take over."

He said the ANC’s leadership was bottle-necked in one generation.

"The biggest challenge in the province now is jobs, jobs, jobs. The youth are sitting out there and they are crying tears," he told News24.

His plan would be to work with the provincial government in breaking down the barriers to entering the job market.

He did not want to comment on race in the party, but said the party needed to talk about it. What mattered was that the people in charge did a good job.

Lennit Max

Max was the last man standing against De Lille in the fight for the job of DA provincial leader in 2015. He lost, getting just over 30% of the vote.

De Lille’s resignation had left the door open for him to have a fourth crack at the position. "If I got a mandate from the people to represent them, I will not turn it down. I would put myself forward," he told News24 earlier this month.

"It is time that members who elect an interim leader afford me the opportunity to prove myself. And if they are not happy, they can say I am not what was expected."

In 2015, Max was upbeat about his chances.

He ran unsuccessfully for the position in 2007 and 2010 and touted his support in rural areas during his 2015 campaign.

Max said De Lille's resignation did not surprise him at all.

"She was not really interested in becoming the provincial leader."

The task of being mayor in a city that was a DA showcase, was a huge one, Max said.

"It's an enormous task and she realised it was better to focus on that. I hope she will be able to give it 100%."

Read more on:    da  |  bonginkosi madikizela  |  lennit max  |  arlene adams  |  shaun august  |  politics

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