Zille likely to remain DA leader despite rumblings
DA leader Helen Zille is almost guaranteed re-election as party leader to take the DA into the 2014 general election, political analysts said.
and SBU MJIKELISO
DEMOCRATIC Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille is almost guaranteed re-election as party leader to take the DA into the 2014 general election, political analysts said yesterday.
However, it is understood that some within the party are lobbying to remove Ms Zille as leader at the DA’s national congress in November, at which a new national leadership team will be elected.
There are also strong indications that federal executive chairman James Selfe’s position is under threat. The position is seen to be influential within the party.
Though Ms Zille has not yet indicated whether she will make herself available for re-election, strong indications are that she will run, possibly for the last time. Analysts said yesterday it would be difficult for anyone to mount a challenge against her.
Beeld newspaper has reported that a faction in the DA wants to oust Ms Zille, who assumed the DA leadership in 2007.
Ms Zille, in a radio interview on Friday, said that any challenge for her position at the elective conference was welcome. She said she was certain her position would be challenged, but said it was not a divisive process.
Independent political analyst Nic Borain yesterday said Ms Zille was generally seen as the face of the DA. “She is seen as the person who renovated the party. She reinvigorated the DA and brought new energy, it will be difficult for anyone to challenge her.”
Independent political analyst Daniel Silke said there was no “real” alternative to Ms Zille. “There is no one within the party who can remotely threaten Ms Zille’s position. She is safe in this election.” He said it was common in any political party for members to jockey for position in congress season. “However, the jockeying has been exacerbated by the manner in which Lindiwe Mazibuko was elected as parliamentary leader.”
Ms Zille last year openly lobbied to have Ms Mazibuko elected to lead the party in Parliament. Ms Mazibuko went on to defeat Athol Trollip in a hotlycontested election.
A DA insider yesterday said that Ms Zille’s position was “unassailable”.
“Anyone who challenges Helen would not have done their homework”. The insider said that there had been some discussion around unseating Mr Selfe — which came as a surprise.
“It would obviously be Athol Trollip’s camp who would want to unseat Mr Selfe. No one has challenged James for a long time … it is a powerful position which can be equated to that of African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s.”
Speaking at a press briefing in Ladysmith at the weekend following the DA’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial congress, Ms Zille said party members who believed they could lead the DA needed to openly express their intentions and not do so behind closed doors.