More than three years after Helen Zille stepped down as leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) she was elected as the DA’s federal council chair, a position which is the most powerful in the party.
The position was previously held by James Selfe who stepped down on Saturday following his resignation in May, after the general elections.
The DA’s federal council held a meeting over the weekend in Johannesburg where Zille was elected to fill the position.
After being approached by Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters earlier in October Zille announced that she intended to stand for the position.
During her press briefing Zille told the media that her intentions are to ensure the party’s structure is operational but will be staying in the background, she will not take over as party leader as she respects and supports the leadership.
Mmusi Maimane could become frustrated
Unisa’s political expert, Professor Somadoda Fikeni said that DA leader Mmusi Maimane could feel frustrated and isolated due to political and policy differences between him and and his predecessor, Zille.
Fikeni said that in her attempt to revive the DA, Zille could render Maimane’s power insignificant.
Zille is said to be close to Maimane’s ally, Athol Trollip and other members who want the leader removed as the party has moved away from its liberal values.
Why Zille stood for the position
The former DA leader stood for the position of the DA’s federal council chair as she has questioned the partys stance on issues such as black economic empowerment. This is an issue which is costing them votes ahead of the 2021 local government elections.
The May general elections saw the DA lose it’s position in KwaZulu-Natal to the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), who are now the second largest party in the legislature.
The City of Cape Town, which saw the DA take a two-thirds majority during the 2016 poll, saw a decline in support in the 2019 general election.
The DA’s position regarding BEE
Zille has put on record that she believes Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) puts race before economic growth and this has a negative impact, whereas Maimane is in favour of the policy, which is causing a split within the party.
Johannesburg mayor might resign on Monday
The city of Johannesburg major, Herman Mashaba is said to have put together a press conference on Monday where it is expected that he will announce his resignation.
Prior to the meeting of the federal council Mashaba said that should the DA be taken over by what he called ‘right-wing’ elements, he would tender his resignation.
Mashaba told Radio 702 listeners last week that he did not want to be associated with the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) where Zilla recently worked.
DA leaders, including Mmusi Maimane allegedly spent most of Sunday evening trying to convince Mashaba not to resign as it will be a great loss to the city of Johannesburg but he is extremely stubborn.
DA’s coalition with EFF is threatened
Should Mashaba resign, it could threaten the DA’s coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in the province.
Zilla has denied she is a ‘right-winger’ by mentioning things she did during apartheid, like hiding uMkhonto We Size operatives in her house during a time when Mashaba was becoming a successful businessman selling hair straighteners.