/ 17 September 2018

DA to decide if Maimane will be Western Cape premier candidate

Maimane’s office has said that the party will be ready to announce its candidate for premier this week.
Maimane’s office has said that the party will be ready to announce its candidate for premier this week. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The Democratic Alliance has confirmed that its federal executive will meet on Tuesday to discuss who will be named the party’s Western Cape premier candidate after dissent erupted against leader Mmusi Maimane’s bid to name himself for the position at the weekend.

Federal executive chairperson James Selfe said that the DA’s decision-making structure would meet to discuss the premier candidate, but it remains unclear when the party will announce its candidate.

“I don’t know [if the party will make an announcement]. I don’t want to preempt the federal executive discussions,” Selfe said.

A City Press report on Sunday revealed that Maimane was going to announce himself as Western Cape candidate. Initially, the party had planned to make the announcement on Sunday, but sent a note saying that it had been delayed on Saturday.

The decision to delay the announcement seemed to come after DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela met with Maimane on Friday to raise concerns about his candidature. Madikizela was in the running for the post.

“It’s Mmusi’s right to stand on any list according to our constitution. The question is whether that decision is in the interests of the party, in terms of our national strategic goals, and I think it is not,” Madikizela told the Cape Times.

Maimane would not be the first DA leader to stand for election as premier in a general election. Former DA leader Helen Zille, who is the outgoing premier of the Western Cape, ran for premier while she was leader of the party from 2009 to 2015.

But Maimane appears to be struggling to repeat Zille’s run. Portia Adams, spokesperson for Maimane, has confirmed that he is interested in the premier post, but has refuted claims that the decision to name him as the DA’s candidate was finalised.

“There is no premier candidate that has been finalised yet. If he decides on this course of action, yes, he can go for both candidacy of the Western Cape and presidential elections. This is not unprecedented within the DA,” Adams said.

Alan Winde, the MEC for economic opportunities, and DA MP David Maynier, who is the shadow minister of finance in Parliament, have also been named as contenders for the post.

In August, DA insiders told the Mail & Guardian that there was a surge of support for Winde to be named as premier candidate because of criticism against Madikizela for the water crisis in the province, and issues with mayors around the province including Patricia De Lille in Cape Town, Mark Willemse in Knysna, and Melvin Naik in George.

A senior leader inside the party said, however, that there was also support for Madikizela to fill the post.

“But there are some people who are nervous about the push for Alan [Winde] and are saying Bonginkosi should be elected, otherwise it will make him look like a fool, because he is the provincial leader,” the senior leader said.

READ MORE: W Cape leader ‘unfit’ to be premier

Maimane’s office has said that the party will be ready to announce its candidate for premier this week.