DA extends nomination deadline for top leadership positions

2015-04-12 17:36

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The DA has extended the nomination deadline for top leadership positions by four days amid the surprise decision by national leader Helen Zille to step down in May.

Nominations for all the top positions were due to be in by next Monday, but have now been extended to Friday 24 April, DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said today.

“This is to allow people who might not have considered their options to do so,” he said.

The party would also work on an internal campaign to allow “serious candidates” to be exposed to party structures ahead of the party’s federal congress in Port Elizabeth, which gets under way in less than a month – on May 9.

Selfe said it was premature to predict names for Zille’s replacement, and he would not comment on speculation that parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane was a frontrunner.

Other names that are doing the rounds include Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille, Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip and former parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko – though it is believed she would not have concluded her studies at Harvard University in time to stand.

Selfe, who is making himself available for re-election, said the congress date would definitely not be changed as a result of Zille’s decision to step down.

He admitted he had been taken by surprise when she first discussed her intentions at a meeting last Thursday. But he now understood her reasoning and supported her decision.

Selfe said he was aware that the announcement at a press conference today would have come as a surprise to many DA members around the country. “There is a lot of internal communication going out within the party already. We are also going out to our donors to explain it,” he said.

But Selfe denied it was a setback.

“Obviously, I think everybody gets shocked, unsettled by something of this nature. But it is also an opportunity for the party to look at itself and say where do we go from here?

“There is enormous talent, lots of extremely capable people who may or may not make themselves available. I hope there is a good contest for leadership.”

He said it was not like Zille was going to retire. “She is still the premier of the Western Cape, a huge electoral asset. She is fully engaged with the election campaign, she will swing behind whoever is elected as we all will.”

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