The official opposition has reacted to what it has called newspaper speculation about the selection of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial legislature elections.
In a statement Democratic Alliance federal executive chairperson James Selfe reacted on Tuesday to a list — reported in the media on Monday — indicating that party top brass Nigel Bruce, party representative on the key Public Accounts committee, and Raenette Taljaard, finance shadow minister, were too low on the Gauteng list to be re-elected to Parliament.
The electoral college was held on the weekend of January 17 and 18.
The list — which was meant to be kept under wraps until changes were made by party leader Tony Leon by filling vacancies at positions three, seven, 14 and every seventh position thereafter — put Taljaard at 32 and Bruce at 36 for the National Assembly and was to have been announced on February 14.
Selfe said: “There has been some newspaper speculation about the selection of candidates for the DA parliamentary and provincial lists.
“For the sake of clarity, I am issuing this to explain the process the DA follows in selecting candidates.
“Any member of the DA is welcome to make him- or herself available to represent the party in public representative bodies. The job of selecting candidates is the prerogative of provincial or regional electoral colleges whose members are democratically elected by the various provinces and regions.
“Nominations as candidates were received from around the country and in the course of November of last year, these candidates were first vetted and then individually interviewed by regional or provincial electoral colleges.
“Those candidates that were shortlisted are appearing again before the electoral colleges for the purpose of ranking. The ranking process itself is likewise the result of a democratic vote by the relevant electoral college.
“Once a provincial or regional electoral college has completed this task, the provisional list is submitted to the leader who has the power in terms of the DA ‘s constitution to make certain changes to the lists.
“The leader has not yet exercised these powers, nor will he do so until he has received all the provisional lists from around the country. The final lists of candidates of the DA will be released on Saturday February 14 and until then any list is merely provisional.”
Selfe emphasised that the DA “takes great pride in the fact that at all material stages in the selection process, the selection is done democratically by the rank and file membership of the party. In this process, it is inevitable that some people will be winners and some will be losers, but the candidates, like the DA, respect democratic outcomes”.
Leon, however, will face a dilemma in that he needs to place black candidates, poorly represented on the Gauteng list, higher up on the lists — to make them electable — while still considering the positions of white party loyalists like Taljaard as well as Vincent Gore, who at 29 on the Gauteng list for the National Assembly is also too low.
Gore, himself disabled and the repeated target of hijackers in his Alexandra township on the East Rand of Johannesburg, is also a victim of the electoral college procedure, which has favoured conservative candidates like former National Party frontbencher Sheila Camerer — a one-time right-hand woman of National Party president FW de Klerk — and the Federal Alliance’s Sakkie Blanche. —