DA leaders pulled from public debate ahead of federal council vote

Helen Zille and Athol Trollip are considered the front-runners for the DA's federal council chairperson post. (Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Ferreira)
Helen Zille and Athol Trollip are considered the front-runners for the DA's federal council chairperson post. (Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Ferreira)

The DA's presiding officer of federal council elections, Desiree van der Walt, has written to four of the party's candidates to stop public campaigning for the role.

A massive showdown is expected this weekend when former party leader Helen Zille goes up against DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip to replace outgoing federal council chairperson James Selfe.

While the election has been largely described as a two-horse race, Thomas Walters and Mike Waters have also been nominated for the crucial role, which has been likened to the ANC's secretary general position or that of political CEO of South Africa's second-largest political party.

"It is an internal party election. We do not really want people to go out and canvass voters and the public," Van der Walt said at a media briefing at the party's headquarters in Bruma, on the East Rand of Gauteng, on Wednesday.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED | What is the DA's federal council

The four candidates were supposed to participate in a debate on eNCA which was pulled after she intervened.

Van der Walt said she was not calling for a boycott of any media platform but explained that there was a code of conduct that governed how candidates should run campaigns.

"We have seen all four, except one, refusing to run his campaign through the media or in the media. I have carefully watched all the media news clips, radio interviews, newspapers and saw questions going to all the candidates," said Van der Walt.

She said this, unlike the party's congress, where new leaders are elected, is purely for delegates attending the council.

Around 155 delegates will be voting for a new federal council chairperson.

They are also expected to discuss the review report compiled by a panel led by former party leader Tony Leon, which current party leader Mmusi Maimane commissioned following a dismal showing in the May 2019 general elections.

ALSO READ: DA FedEx has 'extensive engagement' on draft report on election showing

Van der Walt said the DA needed to put the country first to turn around its weakening economy, restore state capacity and make sure order is restored in numerous communities.

"The democratic project is under threat and we cannot afford further setbacks and the DA has a vital role in ensuring that the country walks the path towards prosperity and builds one South Africa for all," said Van der Walt.

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