The DA’s John Steenhuisen and Makashule Gana have only four days to lobby support in their bid to become the party’s interim leader.
The party will once again be thrust into the spotlight when it elects Mmusi Maimane’s replacement as well as a new federal chair.
The party has been in a state of political wilderness after the two heavy hitters Maimane and federal chair Athol Trollip made shocking resignations shortly after Helen Zille was elected as the new federal council chair.
Without any direction from its own constitution in the sudden turn of events, the party elected on voting for an interim leader and federal chair. The two party interim leaders would hold the fort until its early congress in 2020.
Much like the federal council elections, which resulted in a discord between the major party players, party presiding officer of federal council elections Desiree Van Der Walt said the rules will remain the same.
With the withdrawal of Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela from the race, the 160 council members who would normally use a ranking system (single transferable vote ranking system) to elect a new leader, will find it easier to choose the preferred candidates.
“There are only two candidates, so [each] member will choose their preferred candidates. Unlike the system which will be used to select a federal chair. In that election we have four candidates. The first candidate to go on the ballot will be selected from a draw and the other three will be chosen alphabetically,” she said.
The four candidates vying for the federal chair position include: Dharmesh Dhaya – DA chief whip in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality; Ivan Meyer – deputy federal chairperson and Western Cape finance MEC ;Khume Ramulifho – MPL in the Gauteng legislature and Nomafrench Mbombo – DA Women’s Network leader and Western Cape health MEC.
Van Der Walt explained that all candidates will address the federal council during Sunday’s session to convince delegates to support their respective bids. For the position of federal chair, delegates will rank the leaders from the most to the least preferred.
On Tuesday, News24 learnt that Gana sent a letter to party members ahead of this weekend’s election. In the letter, Gana makes the argument that the party cannot ignore race in formulating its redress policies.
“To many black people, ‘blackness’ is irrevocably linked to their material conditions, which are more dire compared to their white compatriots. It absolutely does not hurt to acknowledge this predicament,” he writes in the letter.
Gana makes the point that it’s “hypocritical” to use black leaders to win votes while emphasising that race does not matter.
“The first question we have to ask is whether the DA can continue to propound a brand of politics that strains to emphasise that race does not matter, and yet recognises that in order to win elections, it has to have black leadership? I do not think this is sustainable because it is fundamentally hypocritical for more than one reason, which I set out below.”
In contrast, Steenhuisen, speaking during an interview on Radio 702 on Tuesday morning, said South Africans had become “far too obsessed with race”.
He said one didn’t have to be a “black South African to speak speak for poor South Africans who are living in poverty”.
In a process similar to casting votes in the general elections, the DA’s closed elections will follow regulations set by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC). The announcement will be made at 13:30 on Sunday, she told News24.
Van Der Walt said delegates would be expected to provide their identification documents to get the ballot paper and vote.