The DA will elect an interim leader on November 17 to fill the void after Mmusi Maimane’s resignation, until the party elects a new permanent leader at a congress in April next year.
When the nominations closed on Thursday at 17:00, three people had thrown their hats in the ring. They are newly appointed parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen, Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana and Western Cape provincial leader and MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela.
John Steenhuisen (43)
Steenhuisen’s career in representative politics started in 1999 when he was elected to the eThekwini Municipal council, representing Durban North as a 22-year-old ward councillor.
He held this position for 10 years until he was elected to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in 2009, where he was the leader of the opposition. He also became the provincial leader the same year, but resigned the next, citing personal reasons. In 2011, the party transferred him from the KwaZulu-Natal legislature to Parliament.
In 2014, he became the party’s chief whip, a position he retained after this year’s election. He ceased being chief whip after Maimane’s resignation, as its term is tied to that of the parliamentary leader. He was then elected unopposed to lead the DA in Parliament.
Makashule Gana (35)
In 2002, Gana joined the DA as a student and became active in the party’s youth structures. In 2008, he participated in the DA’s young leaders programme – which he is still involved in – and was elected as the DA’s federal youth leader in 2010.
In 2009, he was elected as a councillor in the Johannesburg Metro council. He served as the DA deputy federal chairperson, a position he was elected to in 2012.
In 2014, he became a member of the National Assembly but moved to the Gauteng provincial legislature two years later in 2016, where he remained after the May 2019 election.
In 2015, he challenged Athol Trollip for the position of federal chairperson, and in the run-up to this year’s election, he also campaigned to become the DA’s premier candidate, losing out to Solly Msimanga.
Before the fateful meeting of the DA’s federal council, which elected Helen Zille as federal council chairperson, Gana was elected the chairperson of the DA’s MPL network.
Bonginkosi Madikizela (44)
The nephew of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela followed an unusual route to the DA.
Initially, he was a member of the ANC. In 2006, he was expelled from the party with other members after they wanted to contest the 2006 municipal elections as independents after the ANC did not elect them as candidates.
In 2007, he joined the UDM, but also exited the party after a party probe found he allegedly tried to recruit members for the DA while still a member.
Madikizela at the time rejected the allegations and said his resignation was out of frustration with internal squabbles and the party’s lack of organisation, IOL reported.
He worked for the City of Cape Town’s communications department as well as spokesperson for then-mayor Helen Zille.
He officially became a DA member in 2008. The following year, after the DA won the province from the ANC, he became an MPL in the Western Cape legislature, and Zille appointed him as MEC for human settlements.
In 2015, he was elected deputy provincial leader and in February 2017 became acting provincial leader after Patricia de Lille resigned from this position. In October 2017, he was elected provincial leader.
The party also has a vacancy for the position of federal chairperson after Trollip resigned along with Maimane.
Four people have made themselves electable for this position. They are:
- Dharmesh Dhaya – DA chief whip in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.