New DA leaders ready to unite

2012-03-19 00:00

RE-ELECTED KZN DA leader Sizwe Mchunu wants the man he defeated for the top post, Dr Ziba Jiyane, to play a larger role in the party.

Mending bridges after what has been described as one of the most divisive campaigns in the provincial DA, both Mchunu and the new chairperson Haniff Hoosen preached unity and downplayed the bruising leadership battle.

“Some people may call it dirty, I call it robust,” said Hoosen at the party’s provincial congress in Ladysmith on Saturday.

DA national leader Helen Zille, described her party’s elective congress season as “the cruelest month”.

In the DA — unlike the ANC — there was no winner takes all situation. She said the new incumbents did not purge the old order, with the view that “it is our turn to eat”.

Although there was tough contestation within the DA, in the end the winners accommodated the losers as the party was bigger than personalities, Zille said. The over-reaching aim was to ensure the party’s growth and attainment of its vision. For KZN, that vision was to become the official opposition in the province.

During a press briefing, Mchunu said he was sure that Jiyane, with his experience and status, would be playing a bigger role in the party.

Hoosen, who beat Greg Krumbock, praised his opponent and nodded his head in agreement when Zille said Krumbock was indispensable to the party for his mathematical calculations and predictions on party growth and tracking polls.

She once called him “the professor of elections and by-elections.”

It took longer to announce the position of deputy provincial leader as there had to be a recount.

In the end, Francois Rogers from the Sisonke constituency narrowly beat Rory Macpherson from Durban North. George Mari, who was also contesting the position, withdrew his candidacy and could not be drawn out on the reasons, saying it was a personal decision. However, party insiders said he did it because of the divisiveness of the campaign. Ten candidates contested the three positions of provincial deputy chairperson. Those elected were Warwick Chapman, Dianne Kohler Barnard and Zwakele Mncwango.

DA national leader Zille said while KwaZulu-Natal may be the province with the most political parties, the majority of these parties stood for the same thing — ethnic nationalism. She said, three of the parties — the IFP, NFP and the more recently the ANC with Zuma as president — stood for “who can represent the Zulu better”.

The Minority Front (MF) drew it’s strength from winning the Indian vote. Zille was outlining the DA’s plan to make gains by winning as many municipalities as it could and provincially to become the official opposition by 2014.

She believed that this was possible as “more and more people saw ethnic nationalism leading them nowhere”.

According to Zille, the political contest in KZN was rooted in an ethnic contest for the Zulu vote.

“That was why the ANC did so well in this province when Zuma was standing for president.”

Zille told the party faithful that the DA was the only alternative to narrow ethnic nationalism.

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