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'Hard worker' Meyer elected DA leader in W Cape

Glynnis Underhill

Newly elected DA provincial leader Ivan Meyer has said he is determined to export the successes of the Western Cape to the rest of the country.

Newly elected DA provincial leader in the Western Cape Ivan Meyer aims to gain 60% of the electoral vote in the province by 2014. (David Harrison, M&G)

There were no surprises when Dr Ivan Meyer was elected Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial leader, taking over from Theuns Botha at the party's Western Province conference in Cape Town.

While he was uncontested for the post, there was still palpable excitement among the delegates that change and transformation was continuing to happen in the party.

DA Councillor Steven Vuba from the Cape Town metro said Meyer was exactly the right person for the job. "He has the support of the entire DA. The party welcomes transformation and change and we will all stand together as a party for all."

Botha was the sole nominee for the position of deputy provincial leader. "Meyer does not undermine Botha, they will work together to build up the party," said Vuba. "We are all happy with the change."

The current provincial minister of social development and sport, Meyer is also the deputy federal chairperson of the DA, and the constituency head of Langeberg.

With a PhD in public administration, he is expected to lead by example, and is known as a "hard worker".

"He is a people's person and he works on the ground, just like Theuns. A year ago I said to Theuns 'we need that man and nobody else'," said Desmond Samson, registry clerk at the chief whip's office in the provincial legislature.

"He is into sport and he loves his family. If you ask him to do anything, he will do it, it makes no difference what time of night it is."

A shifting party
In his acceptance speech, Meyer told the DA provincial conference he would not have any celebration party, but would immediately get to work to build up the party.

"It is my responsibility as the newly elected leader to deliver the Western Cape in 2014 with a bigger electoral result," he said in his acceptance speech.

"My target is to gain 60% of the electoral vote in 2014. I am both optimistic and confident that we can achieve this. Judging by the results of the recent bi-elections – one thing is clear: the voter base is shifting. It is shifting towards a party that delivers. It is shifting towards a party that is not corrupt. It is shifting to a party that protects the rights of the individuals. It is shifting towards a party that is truly non-racial."

In the Western Cape, delegates had to accept that the political discourse is now moving beyond the province. They also had to promote the new political narrative that is emerging in South Africa, which will see a new government in the Union Building by 2019 or earlier, he said.

Meyer said that he will defend the Constitution and give effect to the DA electoral manifesto.

"The DA is standing up, that's why we took President Zuma to the Constitutional Court about the appointment of Menzi Simelane as National Director of Public Prosecution. The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the DA."

Meyer said two of his goals were to prioritise the safety of citizens in the province and to develop a young leaders programme for the Western Cape.

"The DA, under our leader Helen Zille, has proved our strength in governance and service delivery. Our electoral machine is equally well resourced. Just go to our bi-elections and you will see the steel of our party."

Meyer said the DA now had to offer people the soul of the party and show them both efficiency and compassion.

Meyer said that in coming weeks it would elect new branch leadership based on its audited membership.

Handing the DA votes
Anton Bredell remains the provincial chairperson of the provincial executive committee and was uncontested for the post, while Erik Marias, Richard Majola and Albert Fritz are, in that order, deputy chairs of the committee.

Andricus Van der Westhuizen is the chairperson of finance on the provincial executive committee. There are also four additional members of the extended provincial executive committee: Thandeka Gqada, Guy Harris, Okkie Terblanche and Grant Twigg.

At a lively press conference after his win, Meyer said he was determined to export the successes of the Western Cape to the rest of the country.

" We are seeing a new growth in the DA," he said. "We are seeing the future growth in the party lies in the hearts of the people. We are seeing people are fed up with the ANC."

When you make the province ungovernable, and burn tyres and trucks, people get fed up, he said, and the ANC was handing the DA votes.

"We do not deny people have legitimate claims," said Meyer. "This is not about service delivery. This is about two factions of the ANC fighting each other."

Earlier, referring to the recent shooting of two officers in the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay, DA leader Helen Zille told conference members to not become complacent in the province because the DA were the ruling party.

Zille also took the opportunity to make comparisons between the DA's conference and those of the ruling party.

"While our internal elections are hotly contested, and there is a lot of lobbying, they are also democratic, transparent, peaceful and positive. That is a huge achievement in itself. And this is why the DA in the Western Cape is stronger, more united, more diverse and more determined than ever before.  If anyone wants to compare the DA with the ANC, they need to look around them, right here, right now. The ANC in the Western Cape, as in the rest of the country, is at war with itself," said Zille.


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