DA's new leader in Western Cape issues call for party unity

07 October 2017 - 18:13 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Bonginkosi Madikizela has been elected as the new DA leader in the Western Cape.
Bonginkosi Madikizela has been elected as the new DA leader in the Western Cape.

The DA’s new Western Cape leader‚ Bonginkosi Madikizela‚ urged party members to put their differences aside in order to save South Africa.

“If we don’t save South African by 2019‚ by 2024 we will not have any country left to save‚” Madikizela told the provincial DA conference in Cape Town on Saturday shortly after beating Lennit Max to the top job.

He said many DA supporters were starting to feel disillusioned and the party needed to make them feel valued again.

“[We also need] to make sure that we work tirelessly‚ particularly in rural areas‚ in farming communities‚ because many people there don't feel our presence as Democratic Alliance‚” he said.

“In fact there is a perception out there that we are more for farmers rather than farm workers.”

Madikizela’s re-election — he had been acting leader since Patricia de Lille stepped down to focus on her role as Cape Town mayor — may spell trouble for De Lille and her supporters.

He is part of a grouping in the party aligned to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille which has complained about De Lille’s hold on power in the city.

Last month‚ De Lille ally Shaun August was defeated by Grant Twigg in a hotly contested election which saw new leadership emerging in the Cape metro region.

Among those elected was JP Smith as one of the deputy chairmen. Smith and Twigg supported Madikizela in the campaign before Saturday’s vote.

Shortly after his election‚ Smith entered into a public spat with De Lille over the disbandment of the city’s special investigative unit and security upgrades at the mayor’s home.

The two have since been placed on special leave from DA political activities pending an internal inquiry by the party.

DA insiders speaking to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity indicated that Madikizela’s win will strengthen moves to decentralise power from De Lille and August‚ who is the city chief whip‚ forcing them to account to a collective led by Twigg.

“You will see changes now. She [De Lille] will not like having to account to Twigg‚” said one insider.

Another DA councillor said the party was due to hold a crucial caucus meeting on Monday‚ at which the delegation of powers in the city council would be discussed.

“When we get there on Monday‚ we will have more power‚ more say‚ because they [De Lille and her supporters] will not be in charge both in the metro and the province‚” said the councillor.

Although Madikizela’s win puts him in pole position to succeed Zille as premier‚ this week he told TimesLIVE beng premier was not one of his goals.

- TMG Digital