DA leader Mmusi Maimane has nominated himself as the Western Cape premier candidate to replace Helen Zille.
According to a report by the Sunday Times, his move has sparked a fresh leadership battle in the DA and is being seen as an admission that the DA stands little chance in the next general election – and may have accepted that the ANC will keep power.
While the DA’s constitution allows for the party’s leader to be its first candidate on all its electoral lists, the party’s federal executive has the discretion to make changes to electoral lists and move members on the basis of ‘electability’.
The executive was unable to ratify the Western Cape candidacy this week because there was no agreement on the Maimane candidacy.
DA-leader in the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela, said that he expected Maimane to use his power in a contested province such as Gauteng.
“Strategically as the party … the next target is Gauteng and the Northern Cape … I find it strange that the federal leader would abandon the national project,” said Madikizela.
“We have a national project to get the ANC below 50%,” he said.
“If the target is to win two extra provinces, you would expect the federal leader … to have made himself available in one of those two provinces.”
Madikizela said that Maimane had told them he had made himself available because he was worried about the DA’s prospects in the province.
Speaking to the paper, Maimane supporters said that the party leader believed that he would strengthen his political hand if he moved into a governing position.
They added that the decision was made in the interest of the party’s ‘national project’, which was about increasing electoral support nationally and across the provinces.
They also said it would not bode well to put up white men, which meant that other nominated Western Cape candidates such as Alan Winde and David Maynier would ‘fall by the wayside’.