National

Zille faces no opposition

Andisiwe Makinana

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille will continue to lead the party until such time as 'someone else can do this job better than I can'.

Helen Zille has been nominated unopposed to lead the party for another term. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

This week, the DA said Zille had been nominated unopposed to lead the party for another term. She has been at the helm since May 2007 when she succeeded Tony Leon. This will be her third term.

"A term in South Africa politics is normally considered to be five years, because that is the term of an elected government. We happen to have our congress every two years.

"How long I remain in this position is not my decision. And as soon as the majority of congress delegates believe that someone else can do this job better than I can, I will stand down," said Zille.

Asked whether she was concerned that no one else was standing up to lead the party, Zille said there were many positions in which people were demonstrating their leadership capabilities and capacity to lead the DA.

"Anybody is free to contest any position. I am well aware that an uncontested election brings particularly onerous responsibilities and I will do my best to live up to them," she said.

Zille said the DA had a succession plan, but it did not involve any individual picking a successor.

"It means expanding the pool of people who can lead the party and giving them opportunities as they move up through the ranks to demonstrate that they can. We are doing that more than any other party," she said.

Party of good government
Zille's plan for this new term is to keep the party growing and establish it as a party of good government, not just one of opposition.

Controversial DA MP Masizole Mnqasela will challenge Wilmot James for the position of federal chairperson.

Zille said she supported Mnqasela's right to stand as a candidate and that she would be able to work with anyone who is elected. "We are professionals and work together as such," she said.

In 2011, Zille denounced Mnqasela's views as "Verwoerdian thinking" after he campaigned against Lindiwe Mazibuko for the party's parliamentary leader position, claiming she was not yet ready for the job. Mnqasela, in turn, accused Zille of running the party like a spaza shop.

Interestingly, Mnqasela is standing for a position that he once characterised as "ornamental".

During the DA's last congress in June 2010, Mnqasela proposed on behalf of his N2 Development ­constituency in Khayelitsha that the position of federal ­chairperson and federal council chairperson be combined and filled through an election by the congress.

He argued at the time that the ­federal council chairperson had a clear role in the organisation's executive, whereas the federal chairperson's position – like that of the deputies – was purely ornamental.


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