Cape Town - Acting DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela says the row between Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and mayoral committee member JP Smith needs to be resolved for the sake of party unity.
Smith and De Lille were both placed on special leave this week following a bust-up centred around De Lille's alleged push to shut down the city's special investigations unit.
Acting provincial leader Madikizela is one of two candidates vying to become permanent provincial leader at the DA's Western Cape congress in Cape Town on Saturday.
When asked how he would handle the impasse should he be elected, he said the two parties needed to be reminded what was at stake.
"This is a symptom more than a cause. We have to get to the nub of the issue. The issue of disunity in the city is an issue that has been on-going for some time.
"We really need to understand what is at stake as members of the party. If the DA is not united, factional battles will pose a threat to the DA's national project for 2019."
Madikizela said that this is not the first time Smith and de Lille have clashed, and it could be down to both having similar personality types.
"There is a saying you can't have two bulls in one [kraal]. So I think the personality clashes emanate from the fact that they are both very strong individuals."
Madikizela said, for now, he would not interfere in party processes, as there were serious allegations against De Lille. The party has ordered a commission of inquiry into allegations that renovations at the mayor's house were fraudulently paid for using the city's money.
Whoever is elected on Saturday has a responsibility to protect the party, said Madikizela.
"Factionalism in the city has resulted in the position we've found ourselves in. We need to go back and make the two parties understand.
"What the leader of the province needs to do is to protect the brand of the DA. We must make sure we really close the tap and put antiseptic on the wound so it heals and we can move forward as a party."
Smith still eligible for election
News24 also approached DA MPL Lennit Max, who is also running for the position of chairperson, for comment on how he would handle the issue should he be elected.
However, Max said he was very busy and was not available to chat on Friday.
Meanwhile, Smith is still eligible to run for one of three Western Cape deputy chairperson posts, despite his special leave.
DA federal council chairperson James Selfe told News24 on Friday that the conditions of Smith's special leave only preclude him from attending party events and do not affect his membership.
He can, therefore, cast a vote too but will have to do so before the event starts.
De Lille will not be attending the event and is not running for any positions on Saturday. She resigned from her position as DA Western Cape leader in January, saying she wanted to focus on her role as mayor.
She beat Max to the position at the last provincial congress in April 2015.
The congress will take place in Goodwood, Cape Town from 09:00 on Saturday. DA leader Mmusi Maimane will be the keynote speaker.