'Definitely not' - Helen Zille says she has no ambition of being DA leader again

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Helen Zille addresses the Cape Town Press Club (Jenna Etheridge, News24)
Helen Zille addresses the Cape Town Press Club (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Newly elected DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille has said she has no ambition of leading the party again.

When Zille was asked at the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday if she would accept a nomination as federal leader, she said: "No. And to underline that, definitely not.

"You never put your toe in the same pool twice, because it’s not the same pool and it’s not the same toe."

She said standing for federal council chair was completely different, an "extraordinarily significant position" at the interface between the political and administrative parts of the party.

She said she hadn't initially decided at all to stand for that position and it had been the last thing on her mind until she received calls from colleagues and had a chat with her husband.

A nuclear bomb

"I did put my hat in the ring and it [exploded] like a nuclear bomb in the party."

She said she had won by a much bigger margin than she ever would have hoped or dreamed.

"All these talks about this big fat conspiracy that has been brewing for months is totally absurd."

On Monday, DA parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen said during his address to the Cape Town Press Club that he would throw his hat in the ring to become the DA's next federal leader.

Last week, Mmusi Maimane resigned as federal leader and Athol Trollip as federal chairperson. This was preceded by the resignation of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

Zille said she was not sure what lay ahead in Maimane's future, but was sure he would fall on his feet.

"It's hard to be rejected by your colleagues and stand up and say, I am going to continue serving."

She regretted that he had included a line in his speech about the DA not being the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building one South Africa for all.

"I like Mmusi. We were very close," she said.

"He is a very good guy and I do think he was wrongly advised for a very long time."

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