Who will rule the DA in Parliament?

2014-04-20 06:00

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Informal lobbying has already started in the DA for its new parliamentary leader, one of the most powerful positions in the party.

Party spokesperson and leader of the Johannesburg caucus Mmusi Maimane and current parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko are the frontrunners in this race, but a DA source said a “dark horse” could emerge “from the left field”.

Should the DA win the premiership of Gauteng in a coalition government, Maimane would remain in the province to fill the position.

Polls, however, show that chances of this are small.

Maimane said: “I’m focused on the elections in Gauteng. I don’t want to focus on that at all now.”

Mazibuko also refused to respond to questions, saying: “If I decide to stand for the post, my colleagues will be the first to be informed. Only after that will I discuss it with the media.”

The caucus elections are likely to take place on May 22, a day after MPs and MPLs are sworn in after the May 7 elections.

City Press polled three caucus members and three set to go to Parliament after the elections. They did not want to be named because the campaign hasn’t kicked off formally.

Four of them said they haven’t been lobbied directly but they’ve heard speculation on the issue. All of them agreed the race was likely to be between Maimane and Mazibuko, but they differed over who was most likely to win.

Maimane is perceived to have the backing of party leader Helen Zille, who also has a vote in the caucus and who is said to want a change from Mazibuko as their relationship has become increasingly strained.

“It is too early to say who will win, but we will know soon after the elections. We will have to see how many seats we are able to get. Even one person can make a difference, and we aren’t sure yet how many MPs we will get or who will end up in Parliament,” an MP said.

“The majority of caucus members were very unhappy [with Mazibuko], but I guess that is the nature of politics. When she lost support of the leadership, she lost favour in the caucus as well,” he said.

A parliamentary candidate in Gauteng, however, said those who are unhappy with Zille’s leadership style are likely to vote for Mazibuko because of Maimane’s perceived closeness to Zille.

He said the Mazibuko camp reckoned they could get 73 votes out of the possible 100 MPs the party might get in Parliament, but he said he disagreed.

“There is dissatisfaction among incumbents with Mazibuko’s leadership style and caucus management, and we are likely to have a young and very new caucus,” he said.

Another MP, however, said Mazibuko had institutional knowledge and political insight, which Maimane didn’t, and she had support among the younger future MPs.

She also said the Johannesburg caucus was unhappy with Maimane before. “If he wasn’t right for that caucus, how will he lead the caucus in Parliament?”

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