DA leadership race: Steenhuisen, Phalatse to woo party members during an internal, closed-door debate

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Mpho Phalatse is up against John Steenhuisen for the role of DA leader.
Mpho Phalatse is up against John Steenhuisen for the role of DA leader.
Luba Lesolle
  • The DA will host a leadership debate between Mpho Phalatse and John Steenhuisen. 
  • The debate offers the two candidates an opportunity to prove why they are best suited for the leadership role. 
  • The DA congress will take place from 1 to 2 April in Johannesburg. 

Days ahead of the DA's elective conference, the leadership race is picking up steam - and, on Monday, a debate is to take place between John Steenhuisen and Mpho Phalatse. 

Phalatse and Steenhuisen emerged as candidates for the leadership race after nominations were closed at the end of February. 

Steenhuisen, who is seeking a second term, was expected to debate Phalatse during a closed-door debate on Monday. 

The debate, expected to be streamed internally in the party, will offer the two candidates one of the last remaining chances to woo voting delegates. 

Steenhuisen has campaigned on a message of continuity in the party's growth, saying he was prepared to lead the DA into a post-ANC South Africa. 

Phalatse's campaign has focused on illuminating Steenhuisen's weaknesses as a leader - who, according to her analysis, was unable to attract the support of most citizens. 

The former Joburg mayor said the DA had to take the need for broader citizens' support seriously, if it planned to increase its voting share in the 2024 elections. 

READ | DA elective congress: Here are the candidates battling for leadership positions

Meanwhile, the DA's Solly Malatsi got a considerable endorsement boost when the mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, backed his candidacy for the deputy federal chairperson position.

Hill-Lewis is a respected and highly-liked party member, who some consider to be a likely candidate for DA leader in the future.

Malatsi is up against several people, including former DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga and DA MP Natasha Mazzone.

The list also includes Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town councillor, who Hill-Lewis could have easily backed as they work closely together.

Malatsi indicated that he was best-suited for the deputy federal chairperson position because he could reach across political lines and engage and work with civil society. 

DA leader John Steenhuisen crowd
DA leader John Steenhuisen is looking at retaining his position.
Supplied Supplied

The DA released a draft programme for its congress, which officially kicks off on Saturday.

The first day will see speeches by Steenhuisen, and there will be a significant focus on constitutional amendments.

News24 Analysis | Steenhuisen vs Phalatse: The battle to steer the DA toward 2024 

Voting for the leadership position will take place on Sunday, along with the presentation of the financial and organisational reports. 

The announcement of the election results is expected on Sunday afternoon.

DA voting delegates will elect a party leader, federal chairperson and three deputy federal chairpersons.

Besides the leadership contest, the DA congress will shed light on the party's 2024 national and provincial election plans. 

Key takeaways from the congress will be the decisions on policy issues, which the party will take on the campaign trail.

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