'My experience on governance speaks for itself' - Zille on DA leadership race

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Helen Zille. Picture: Denzil Maregele
Helen Zille. Picture: Denzil Maregele


The DA’s Helen Zille has vowed to continue ensuring that systems and processes run smoothly if she is re-elected as the federal council chair of the party.

Zille spoke of her extensive experience in governance which she gained while occupying various positions in the Western Cape government, saying that it is what she will have to offer if she retains her position.

She will go up against DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty at the elective conference this weekend.

“It is up to the federal leadership (in the federal executive and federal council) to determine the strategic direction of the party and it will be my job to ensure these decisions are implemented.”

“I have a lot of experience in fixing governance systems, after all, I inherited two spheres of government from the ANC – the City of Cape Town, where I was mayor and the Western Cape, where I was premier. I am now applying what I learnt in the DA,” she said.

Zille was elected as mayor of Cape Town in March 2006, leader of the DA in 2007 and was re-elected in 2012.

The DA has stabilised substantially over the past year. When congress is behind us, we can find our compass and move forward with determination.

Her term as DA leader ended in May 2015 when she handed over the baton to Mmusi Maimane.

helen zille
Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and federal council chair Helen Zille. Picture: Llewelyn Prince/Netwerk24

Zille was elected to office as the premier of the Western Cape by the provincial Parliament in 2009 and re-elected after the May 2014 general elections. She held this position for two terms.

She believes that this is going to be a historic moment for the DA, who will be the first political party to hold their elective conference digitally.

“I am pleased that the DA has been able to move so smoothly to virtual platforms for all its essential operations, culminating in this historic congress of more than 2 000 delegates.”

“The DA has stabilised substantially over the past year. When congress is behind us, we can find our compass and move forward with determination,” she said.

Read: DA leadership candidates step up as congress nears

Since being elected as the interim federal council chairperson last year, Zille explained that she had been committed to implementing key decisions by the federal council, which include establishing a policy unit, holding a policy conference and a local government manifesto workshop.

“I have been involved in our migration to digital platforms, and worked hard to achieve synergy and coherence in our systems and processes,” she said

Unlike her competitor, Moriarty, Zille has not been publicly endorsed by her colleagues so far and it will only be known on November 2 whether she will emerge victorious.

It is a background job, it does not help to have two people who look like the leaders, you have one person who is the leader and the rest of us are supporting.
DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has already used her Twitter platform to endorse Moriarty, noting that she had read his offer and agreed with it.

Van Damme said her voting for Moriarty is not a vote against Zille, adding that they had sorted out their past differences.

“Some of you will read into this what it isn’t. This is not a vote against Helen, but a vote for Mike. Helen Zille and I have no beef. We have disagreed in the past and sorted out of differences. We’re good. We talk. So please don’t think this as a slight against her. Thanks,” she tweeted.

Moriarty has also attracted the vote of leadership candidate Mbali Ntuli who also took to Twitter to share her thoughts.

She reasoned that he has the “requisite skills to help our organisation grow, and importantly Mike is open to diverse views.”

“I will be supporting Mike Moriarty for DA federal council chair. I believe Mike understands the position having served and helped grow [Gauteng] as chairperson,” the tweet read.

In an interview with City Press Moriarty said he believed that he had more to offer compared to Zille and said he was committed to growing the party.

Read: Moriarty promises to grow the DA

Moriarty explained the federal council chair as someone who is prepared to work for the objectives of the party and is not prone to inviting controversy.

“It is a background job, it does not help to have two people who look like the leaders, you have one person who is the leader and the rest of us are supporting,” he said.

Zille on the other hand has been at the centre of controversy time and time again, especially for her tweets regarding issues like colonialism and race.

The latest saga was when she said she believed there were more racist laws now than there were during apartheid and that FW de Klerk should be hailed for bringing the regime to an end.

Her tweets were under investigation by the federal legal commission which has still not been concluded four months later.

The commission has been mum regarding the disciplinary process and has on numerous occasions said it was an internal issue and was therefore not a matter which could be discussed in the media.


Queenin Masuabi 

Political Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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