'I look forward to the new energy' - Maimane congratulates Zille on top DA post election

Former DA leader Helen Zille has won the race to be the DA's new federal council chairperson, completing a dramatic return within the party she once led. (Sarel van der Walt)
Former DA leader Helen Zille has won the race to be the DA's new federal council chairperson, completing a dramatic return within the party she once led. (Sarel van der Walt)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has congratulated former leader Helen Zille on her successful election as the party's new federal council chairperson.

The DA announced that Zille beat out other candidates Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters to replace party veteran James Selfe in the important post as head of the party's internal machinery.

The party's 155 delegates met this weekend for a crucial federal council meeting, where the open vacancy and an all-important election results review report was among the agenda items.

In a statement on Sunday, Maimane said the election of a new chairperson of the Federal Council presented an opportunity for renewal and change for the DA.

"I want to congratulate Helen Zille on her election as Chairperson of Federal Council, and I look forward to the new energy, ideas and vigour that Helen will bring to the leadership collective of the party," he said.

"Helen has served the party in various positions over the past years, and brings experience and political clout second to none.

"Further, I want to call on all the candidates and members of the party to unite behind the new FedCo Chairperson. The election and campaigns are over, and now is the time to unite behind our common purpose."

Maimane also reserved words of praise for Zille's predecessor, who had served in the post for 19 years. He takes up a new position in the party as head of its new governance unit.

"The position was previously occupied by James Selfe, who chaired FedCo for just under 20 years with the utmost distinction. I want to again thank James for his leadership, support and friendship. James is an unsung hero of South Africa’s democratic project and his valiant work has positively shaped our country."

DA review recommendations adopted

Maimane said the party had adopted 13 key recommendations based on a review panel report compiled by former leader Tony Leon, former policy head Ryan Coetzee, and Capitec founder Michiel Le Roux.

Among the recommendations included for the DA to hold an early elective congress "as soon as constitutionally possible" - a year before it is due.

"We want to go to congress in 2020 before local government elections in 2021," Maimane said on Sunday.

The recommendations also included that Zille - in her new role - establish a policy review committee, with a view to the party holding a "policy conference".

The DA Federal Executive will also consider advertising for and defining the role of a new party CEO following the resignation of former CEO Paul Boughey.

Interestingly, the party has also been tasked with probing the fallout surrounding the party's reaction to the events at a Schweizer Reneke school, allegedly used to "exploit racial divisions".

Deputy federal chairperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe will head this probe.

Maimane also said the aim of the council meeting was to focus on the DA's election strategies going into the 2021 elections.

No mention was made of Maimane's position as party leader, following a number of previous media reports that the review panel also recommended he take responsibility for the party's poor 2019 election showing.

- Compiled by Paul Herman.

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