Zille outlined her plans to DA seniors in a ‘private’ meeting

2015-04-13 11:23

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Democratic Alliance federal executive chairperson James Selfe was among a small group of senior DA members who attended a meeting with party leader Helen Zille last week, where she took them into her confidence and outlined her intentions.

Selfe said the meeting, which was at her home last Thursday afternoon, was private so he did not want to elaborate much.

“She had a firm proposal that she put on the table and wanted our views on the matter,” he said adding that he “respected and supported her decision” after her explanation.

He admitted he had initially been taken by surprise though was not “gobsmacked” at her plans because she had always hoped to find a way to exit as leader but succession plans had not worked out.

He insisted that her decision to step down had been “precipitated” by the party’s plan to adopt a charter at the May congress that would guide the party’s action and policy into the 2016 elections and beyond.

“She did some introspection and decided that on balance – it was better to leave sooner rather than later,” he said.

Selfe was aware that the announcement at the press conference yesterday would have surprised 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.

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 stressed that Zille was not leaving the party.

“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.”

He dismissed the notion that she was pushed, and amid a question that she was leaving the leadership at a time the party needed her most, he said: “That comes back to the question of when is it a good time. Is it when everybody wants you to go, or everybody wants you to stay. The time is right for renewal.”

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

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