DA 'backbencher' John Steenhuisen lobbied to lead

Former DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Jan Gerber/News24)
Former DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and former DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Taking a seat among backbenchers when the DA caucus met on Thursday morning, John Steenhuisen vacated the chair reserved for the chief whip.

Apparently, some DA MPs rushed up to him, lobbying him to run to be the next parliamentary leader, a DA MP inside the caucus told News24.

Steenhuisen also got a standing ovation after he spoke and said that he had lost a friend and a leader, according to the MP.

In addition, Steenhuisen told radio host Eusebius McKaiser on Radio702 on Thursday that he had been approached by several DA members to run for party leader, but wanted "the bodies to cool" first while he "gives it consideration".

Steenhuisen automatically ceased to be the party's chief whip after Mmusi Maimane resigned as DA MP and parliamentary leader on Thursday morning. His term was tied to that of the parliamentary leader.

Maimane was last seen at Parliament last Thursday and he didn't attend the caucus meeting this Thursday.

'Growing anger'

DA caucus chairperson and acting parliamentary leader Annelie Lotriet told News24 after the meeting that the caucus would elect a new parliamentary leader. It is the new parliamentary leader's prerogative to appoint a chief whip.

The DA's parliamentary leader must be elected from the caucus unless it is the federal leader, who can automatically become the parliamentary leader.

The DA's constitution gives its leader the right to lead any caucus of which he or she is a member.

According to the MP who spoke to News24, there was "growing anger" for some MPs about Maimane's statements at the press briefing where Herman Mashaba announced his resignation as Johannesburg mayor on Monday, and about some of his comments when he announced his own resignation.

Apparently, there was no talk about further resignations at the caucus meeting.

"People are looking forward to some stability," the MP said.

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