Riven DA readies itself to elect leader following Maimane’s exit

Former chief whip Steenhuisen the frontrunner

FORMER DA chief whip John Steenhuisen has emerged as a frontrunner to replace Mmusi Maimane as the leader of the crisis-ridden official

The leaderless organisation, which was rocked by the resignation of some of its senior leaders this week, will hold a special federal council meeting on November 17 to replace Maimane and former chairperson Athol Trollip.

In a week of high political drama, Trollip and Maimane quit the party, with the latter saying on Wednesday “the DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building one SA for all”.

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba resigned on Monday, stating that he could not “serve with a group of people who believe race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in SA”.

The resignations came after Helen Zille beat Trollip in the close race to become the party’s federal chairperson last week. The party has been embroiled in a war over whether race should be used in determining policies.

A source close to Maimane said he indicated as early as Monday, a day after Zille’s election, that he was quitting as leader.

He said Maimane had for months been fighting the white cabal in the party and gave up when Zille was elected. He also said the former leader felt betrayed by people who were his allies, including Steenhuisen, whom he had chosen as his chief whip in parliament.

“We told him that he has a mandate to lead until the next congress and must not resign,” the source said, adding Maimane said he was fed up
with being undermined by white leaders.

DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango has also thrown his name into the hat to replace Maimane.

Meanwhile, the DA has initiated the process to replace Mashaba – who is in office until November 27 – in the hope that the EFF will not throw in its lot with the ANC.

On Friday, the DA opened nominations for Mashaba’s replacement.

The party’s Gauteng chairperson, Mike Moriarty, said aspirant candidates will need to complete an assessment and appear before the mayoral selection panel on November 11. Joburg’s MMC for finance, Funzi Ngobeni, is tipped to replace Mashaba, if the EFF remains in the coalition.

By George Matlala

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