Former DA leader Helen Zille has beat out her rivals for the position of the party’s federal chair.
Zille takes over from former chair, James Selfe, who held the position for just under 20 years.
She was competing against former DA Port Elizabeth mayor Athol Trollip, and members of Parliament Mike Waters and Thomas Walters, for the position.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane, who has had a tense relationship with Zille since she drew controversy over her social media posts in the past, welcomed the outcome, saying that it presented an opportunity for renewal and change for the DA.
“I want to congratulate Helen Zille on her election as chairperson, and I look forward to the new energy, ideas and vigour that Helen will bring to the leadership collective of the party.
“Further, I want to call on all the candidates and members of the party to unite behind the new FedCo Chairperson. The election and campaigns are over, and now is the time to unite behind our common purpose,” he said.
Zille said she was asked by senior leaders within the party to run for the position of federal chair. She said she recognised the DA was under strain, and needed stability.
The DA suffered a blow in the 2019 national elections, where it failed to gain on the national vote, instead losing ground to smaller partied like the Freedom Front Plus.
Critics have placed the blame on the party’s more recent focus on identity politics, moving away from the concepts of non-racialism that had underpinned Zille’s strategy during her time as party leader.
Zille has openly criticised the DA’s move away from this strategy.
Under Maimane,the DA saw its share of national votes drop from 22.23% under Helen Zille, to 20.77% this year.
The role of federal chair is akin to the role of a CEO of a company, or the secretary general of other parties, and is seen as one of the most powerful positions one could hold, politically, within a party.