DA provincial leaders give thumbs up to virtual conference before big weekend meeting

Helen Zille.
Helen Zille.
Getty Images
  • DA provincial leaders say they are ready for the party's virtual elective conference. 
  • Six provincial leaders spoke to News24, saying branch annual general meetings were in process.
  • The DA will hold a federal council meeting this weekend to decide whether the party will host its congress virtually in October.

Almost all nine provincial structures of the DA are confident they will conclude annual general meetings (AGM) before the party heads to its elective conference in October. 

News24 spoke to chairpersons of some of the provinces on Thursday on their readiness for the congress. Provincial readiness for the virtual conference will likely form part of the discussions during the weekend's federal council meeting. 

The meeting will decide whether the party will go ahead with a virtual conference that will see a party leader be elected and a contest for the federal council chairperson position, currently held by Helen Zille. 

The decision to hold a virtual conference was endorsed by the federal executive in May, however, some leaders opposed it. 

The list of non-believers include Gauteng party leader John Moodey who threatened to take the matter to the courts citing the DA's constitution. KwaZulu-Natal heavyweight Mbali Ntuli has also expressed her reservations over the viability of the conference. Both are vying for the position of party leader. 

The two said a virtual congress would not only hurt their campaigns, but some delegates without proper resources would be disadvantaged. 

Ready, steady 

Provincial leaders, who spoke to News24, however, said they believed their provinces would be ready for the congress. Three provinces - including the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Western Cape - will hold their own conferences virtually before the elective congress.

The Eastern Cape, which was the first province to endorse the conference, has already concluded its annual general meetings. Provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said a virtual conference was possible in the impoverished province. 

"We are ready and we will prove that it possible," Bhanga added in an earlier interview with News24. 

Western Cape chairperson Bonginkosi Madikizela said the province was likely to include AGMs before the 31 August deadline. 

In a draft document seen by News24, the party told members the conference, set to take place on the Zoom virtual platform, would adopt policy conference resolutions, constitutional amendments and elect new leadership.

READ | Voting over zoom how the DA plans to elect leaders virtually

News24 earlier reported the document, put together by interim federal executive chairperson Dr Ivan Meyer, said the party would ensure there was a presiding officer, a deputy and an assistant deputy presiding officer.

They will fully understand how the system works and be able to assist delegates going to different venues to participate in the conference.

The three, in this instance, will also mean the role of party agents, who usually check and verify ballots, will not be necessary.

However, Meyer said, if they were required, a limited number of agents would be present.

DA Limpopo chairperson Geofrey Tshibvumo said the province was in the process of commencing its annual general meetings, adding: "Limpopo would comply with whatever the outcome is pertaining to the virtual congress." 

OPINION | Covid-19 and the opposition: It's a game of politics

Speaking to News24 earlier, Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty said he was confident the province would be done with its AGMs come 31 August. 

He added the AGMs were critical to give legitimacy to the congress, saying should they fail to conclude in time, the party would have to review its congress decision. 

Mpumalanga chairperson Bosman Grobler said they fully supported the proposed virtual conference, adding the province planned to finish its AGMs by mid-August. The province would also hold its provincial conference virtually in October, he said. 

DA North West chairperson Carìn Visser said: "We have to go through it to see if we can do it. We are very well prepared. We are busy with AGMs."

READ | DA' Mbali Ntuli asks members to reject branch meetings from proceeding

Earlier this week, Ntuli sent a communiqué to party members warning against holding AGMs, News24 reported. She said the meetings would put the party's members at risk and left others out.

The communiqué, which News24 has seen, documented her own battle with the coronavirus which left her hospitalised. 

Ntuli said the party could not guarantee that all its members would have the ability to self-isolate if they became sick.

"We cannot guarantee that they will even have the ability to access quality healthcare should they take a turn for the worst."

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