No power struggle inside the DA - acting Western Cape leader

Cape Town - New acting Democratic Alliance Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela says there is no power struggle in the party following Patricia De Lille's resignation as provincial chairperson.

Madikizela told News24 on Monday that De Lille's surprise decision was not part of any alleged "war" within the party, as suggested by party insiders, the African National Congress and media reports.

"Not that I know of, honestly. I can't be drawn on speculation," Madikizela said on reports of a power struggle.

Two party insiders who did not want to be named told News24 that there were differences between De Lille and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, but would not elaborate.

"There is a very serious contestation and interference on the leadership of the DA, a rupture between Hellen Zille and Patricia on leadership questions. The conservatives and liberals are fighting for their space," the source said.

While De Lille's resignation came as a shock, others suggested it was long brewing.

READ: 'Tremors within the DA' - analyst on De Lille's resignation

'Democracy is alive'

But Madikizela disputed claims of a war within.

"If some people are seeing this as a 'war', maybe it's because other parties just expect people to toe the line, and that's not the way of the DA.

"[But] I have no other reason to believe otherwise. I don't want to speculate, and I accept her reasons as the only reasons why she is resigning."

Madikizela dismissed a claim by the ANC in the Western Cape on Monday that De Lille's resignation was a "smokescreen" to hide alleged tension between herself and Western Cape premier Hellen Zille.

"The DA is made up of leaders with diverse views and backgrounds. The difference between us and any other party is that we speak our minds," he said.

"That's what makes us unique. We don't have to agree on every issue and democracy is alive in the DA."

De Lille announced her resignation on Monday, saying she wanted to focus on her duties as Cape Town mayor after achieving her goals as provincial leader.

'We never saw it coming'

Madikizela admitted that it had been a "hectic" day for him following the surprise news that De Lille would be stepping down from her position after almost two years in the post.

He said the Cape Town mayor leaves "big shoes to fill" in the party.

"We were all taken by surprise. We never saw it coming," Madikizela said.

Madikizela, who is currently deputy provincial leader, will act as acting leader from Wednesday until the party's next provincial council on February 25.

An interim leader will be elected there, who will serve until the party's next provincial congress in November.

He said he would be keen on the top job, and will make himself available for the position permanently if called upon.

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