The DA's leadership puzzle: What happens after Maimane

2019-10-23 15:52
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo)

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With Mmusi Maimane expected to announce his resignation on Wednesday afternoon, attention will soon turn to who will take over the captain's armband when he steps down.

Before considering the who, it may be helpful to look at what the DA's constitution says.

Under the section titled "Resignation, Death or Incapacity" paragraph 7.7.1 reads: "If an office bearer resigns, dies, or becomes permanently incapacitated, the office bearer's deputy, if there is one, will fill that position until a successor is elected. Such election shall take place forthwith by the body which elected the office bearer, provided that if this is impracticable the executive of that body may appoint a person to act until a successor can be elected."

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On the DA's website it lists several deputy federal chairpersons but no deputy federal leader, meaning Maimane does not have a deputy who will act in his vacated position immediately.

While paragraph 7.2.2, under the section titled "The Federal Chairperson", notes that the federal chairperson "deputises" for the federal leader it doesn't make provision for resignation, stating only "if he or she is absent or incapacitated".

Even if the party was to call an early congress - the body or gathering during which Maimane was elected in May 2015 - it seems unlikely this will happen in the coming days or weeks.

The final sentence of paragraph 7.7.1 does give leadership the option of appointing an acting leader until a permanent replacement can be elected through the appropriate body.

This means it is likely that the federal council will be responsible for electing an acting leader.

Trollip or Zille?

Athol Trollip, who is the DA's federal chairperson, and Helen Zille, who is the newly elected federal council chairperson, will most likely lead the process.

Insiders have speculated that Trollip has been earmarked to fill the position on an acting basis, but Zille could also be nominated to stand in on an interim basis.

The former Western Cape premier defeated Trollip for the federal council chairperson post, strengthening the hand of the so-called pure liberals who were highly critical of Maimane.

Trollip has been a vocal supporter of Maimane whom he resolutely supported after the DA was criticised for failing to grow its support base during the 2019 national elections.

The DA is also considering who will replace Herman Mashaba whom Maimane described as a hero when the businessman announced his resignation as City of Johannesburg mayor on Monday.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  politics

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