Politics

Steenhuisen and Zille may face challenges when DA elects new leaders

26 January 2020 - 00:00 By APHIWE DEKLERK
John Steenhuisen. File photo.
John Steenhuisen. File photo.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Top DA leaders John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille may be challenged when the party elects new leaders in May.

Gauteng chair Mike Moriarty confirmed yesterday that he is considering challenging Zille for the position of federal council chair.

And the Sunday Times understands that interim leader Steenhuisen may be challenged by Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.

The challenges are expected to cause further divisions within a party that is still recovering from the departure of its former leader, Mmusi Maimane, and the former Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, who resigned last year.

Moriarty is said to have been lobbied by the group that previously backed Maimane.

Madikizela is said to be consulting various leaders in his province, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal in order to gain support for the interim leader position. It is also understood that he wants to have solid backing from his own province before announcing his candidacy for the job.

Madikizela had shown interest in the job last year before Steenhuisen was elected interim leader, but he pulled out of the race at the eleventh hour.

DA insiders in the Western Cape believe that should Madikizela stand, he needs to win or risks facing a big setback in his career.

"The problem with him is that he is under a lot of pressure in the province. There is a serious grouping preparing to challenge him there and he can't afford to lose at the national conference," said one insider.

"If he loses there, he will be very weak to contest and retain his position as the provincial leader."

The party is due to hold its provincial conference later this year after the national conference, but a final date has not yet been set.

Some DA leaders who spoke to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity believe that Steenhuisen has the upper hand in the race for party leader.

Madikizela was not available for comment at the time of going to print.

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