New - black and young - faces in the DA

2012-11-25 18:46
Mmusi Maimane (Beeld)

Mmusi Maimane (Beeld)

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Johannesburg - DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, who has been punted as a future leader of the party, was top of the list of those elected into the party’s leadership on Sunday.

Maimane, who joined the party ahead of last year’s local government elections and who has never contested an internal election before, received the most votes of the nine candidates who contested the three positions of deputy federal chairperson at the party's federal congress in Boksburg, Gauteng.

He was followed by MP Anchen Dreyer, who was re-elected for a second term, and DA Youth leader Makhashule Gana.

They ousted KwaZulu-Natal-based MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard, who campaigned for a second term on the basis that she got the most mentions of all DA MPs in the media, while Western Cape MEC Ivan Meyer stepped down as deputy federal chair to become the party’s DA leader.

All three the new deputy federal chairpersons are from Gauteng, with Maimane and Gana both serving on the party’s caucus in the Johannesburg City Council.

Maimane at a press conference after the elections said the fact that the three of them were based in Gauteng “is a great outcome of this congress” because “it will assist in making sure that increasing our majority in Gauteng is achieved”.

The party is hoping to take Gauteng in 2014.

Maimane’s lobbyists said before congress they hoped that he would position himself to become the party’s leader when Zille steps down.

Divide vote

The election of two black leaders as deputy federal chairpersons has also put paid to fears within the party that the six black candidates standing for the position would divide the vote so much that the party would end up electing only white deputy federal chairpersons.

Late Sunday afternoon James Selfe was unanimously re-elected chairperson of federal executive council and Johannesburg councillor Thomas Walters as his deputy after MP Natasha Michael stepped down. MP Dion George was re-elected chairperson of the party’s federal finance committee.

Party leader Helen Zille, who was the only one nominated for federal chairperson and therefore re-elected unanimously, said in her acceptance speech that she was aware of the “irony” inherent in her unopposed election by a democratic party.

“I am deeply aware of the responsibilities this brings. I interpret this as the congress’s support for our goal of building a new majority at the non-racial centre of South African politics,” she said. “We will work tirelessly to become a party of government across our country.”

Deputy leader

Asked by journalists whether she thought an attempt at congress to change the party’s constitution to make provision for a deputy leader was a vote of no confidence in her, Zille said it was “sad” that the debate centred around that.

MP Masizole Mnqasela, who lost his bid to oust Wilmot James as federal chairperson, proposed the amendment on Saturday night but this was overwhelmingly rejected.

“I’m pretty agnostic about having a deputy or not,” Zille said. She said everyone was worried about the party having “two centres of power” with her being Western Cape premier and Lindiwe Mazibuko being the party’s leader in Parliament.

She said there were also predictions that Cape Town Mayor and ID leader Patricia de Lille’s co-option by the DA would be short-lived because they are both strong leaders.

“Sometimes Patricia and Lindiwe and I have our disagreements, but we talk this out and it does work.”

Zille didn’t rule out the possibility of the party getting a deputy federal chairperson in the near future. “I can’t dictate what people get up and say at a national congress,” she said.

Another term

Zille also didn’t want to say whether she would stay on for another term.

“At our next congress in three years we will all sit down and decide on the names of people to contest to take the party forward and it includes the federal leader of this party, obviously. But the next election will take place in three years’ time, who knows, who knows.”

The party’s constitution was changed over the weekend to lengthen the leadership’s term in office from two to three years.

Read more on:    da  |  masizole mnqasela  |  mmusi maimane  |  dion george  |  helen zille  |  ivan meyer  |  lindiwe mazibuko  |  anchen dreyer  |  wilmot james  |  patricia de lille  |  james selfe  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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