DA virtual conference: One delegate, one vote

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  • The DA's next leader will be known on 1 November at 14:30.
  • The voting system will only allow delegates to vote once.
  • The party is satisfied that the virtual conference will allow all delegates to participate.

Mbali Ntuli or John Steenhuisen? At 14:30 on Sunday, 1 November, South Africans will know who will lead the DA.

This after the data from the previous day's voting – from 11:00 to 16:00 – is run through the OpaVote programme in the presence of candidates' agents after it is stored overnight on a flash drive in a vault. Only an external auditor will have the key to the vault. This will take place at the "nerve centre" of the party's first virtual conference – the DA office in Mill Street, Cape Town.

The votes would have zoomed in from all the corners of the country. Delegates would have voted from their homes, or from 39 hybrid venues across the country.

At a media briefing on Thursday, party officials presented the voting process planned for the party's first virtual national conference on 31 October and 1 November.

The party recently had a dry run with the virtual platform for the conference, as well as the voting system and, according to presiding officers Greg Krumbock and Désirée van der Walt, it proceeded without a hitch.

Krumbock also said he was unaware of any problems with any of the recent virtual provincial conferences and added that the system had built-in safeguards to ensure that delegates could only vote once.

Delegates' votes will also be completely secret, although party officials will be able to see how many people voted.

Krumbock said the five hours allowed for voting should be ample time to ensure that delegates could make arrangements in case there was a mishap, like a power outage.

When a virtual conference was first mooted, there were fears that some delegates would be excluded.

DA federal chairperson Ivan Meyer said the virtual conference, with the option of venues, would be the "most accessible and easy way to join a DA congress". He said they had to "innovate like never before".

"We have embraced the fourth industrial revolution," Meyer said, adding that they would also adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

Meanwhile, one of the candidates for the party's leadership, Mbali Ntuli, announced on Twitter that she had to cancel a virtual townhall which would have allowed any South Africans to pose questions on Thursday.

"This event is unfortunately cancelled following a ruling by the presiding officer. The ruling was to limit the townhall to DA members only, which goes against the spirit of me wanting ordinary South Africans to also join. I do, however, respect the ruling of the presiding officers," read Ntuli's tweet.

The DA's rules for external campaigning are as follows:
  • It is accepted that the media, and other third parties, will take an interest in internal party activities, however, candidates may not lobby or proactively pursue media involvement in their campaigns.
  • Candidates, their supporters, and members of the party may respond to queries related to their own candidacy, provided that such responses do not breach any of the terms contained herein, but not to any related to another person's candidacy.
  • Candidates, their supporters, and members of the party may not divulge internal party information related to the party's finances, polling, staff, meetings, and other activity unless that information is declared, in writing, as public information by the relevant structure or office bearer.
  • The social media policy of the party applies in all internal elections.

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