Zille to make way for new DA leader

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — South Africa’s op­po­si­tion leader He­len Zille an­nounced Sun­day she would step down from her po­si­tion at the party congress next month.

Her de­par­ture is seen by many as an op­por­tu­nity for a black leader to take the helm of Demo­cratic Al­liance as it con­tin­ues its cru­sade to win black sup­port.

Ms Zille, a white woman who has been the DA leader since 2007, said her de­ci­sion not to stand for re-elec­tion was in the in­ter­ests of the party.

“Fac­ing the up­com­ing congress I have spent months won­der­ing whether it is time to go now... there­fore, (I) de­cided not to make my­self avail­able for re-elec­tion as leader at the forth­com­ing congress,” she said in a state­ment.

Ms Zille, a white woman who has been the DA leader since 2007, said her de­ci­sion not to stand for re-elec­tion was in the in­ter­ests of the party.

“Fac­ing the up­com­ing congress I have spent months won­der­ing whether it is time to go now... there­fore, (I) de­cided not to make my­self avail­able for re-elec­tion as leader at the forth­com­ing congress,” she said in a state­ment.

The 64-year-old said she would how­ever re­main pre­mier of the West­ern Cape, which in­cludes the city of Cape Town, and the only re­gion not gov­erned by the op­po­si­tion. Her term as pre­mier ex­pires in 2019. The for­mer jour­nal­ist has been cred­ited with build­ing sup­port for the DA, par­tic­u­larly among black peo­ple.

The party won over 22 per­cent of the vote in the 2014 elec­tions fol­low­ing Ms Zille’s fierce cam­paign in rul­ing African Na­tional Congress strongholds. She told jour­nal­ists that her de­ci­sion had been “a long time com­ing” but “taken quickly, even sud­denly”.

Ms Zille has been a staunch critic of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his Anc-led ad­min­is­tra­tion, par­tic­u­larly over al­le­ga­tions mis­con­duct and cor­rup­tion.

The DA is cur­rently chal­leng­ing the drop­ping of cor­rup­tion charges against Zuma be­fore the 2009 elec­tions, the year he came to power.

DA par­lia­men­tary leader Mmusi Maimane, who many have spec­u­lated will take Ms Zille’s place as head of the party, said he heard the news at the ur­gent meet­ing the ex­ec­u­tive was sum­moned to in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Mr Maimane would not com­ment on whether he would stand for the po­si­tion.

“As you know I’m very com­mit­ted to my role as Par­lia­men­tary leader. I love the job. I think that any dis­cus­sion... is some­thing I will have to think deeply about.

“I will also have to con­sult with my fam­ily, with the party etc.”

Mr Maimane said he did not want to take away from Ms Zille’s an­nounce­ment by mak­ing any pro­nounce­ments on his own fu­ture.

— AFP

DA pres­i­dent He­len Zille (sec­ond from left) and par­lia­men­tary leader Musi Maimane (left) ad­dress a crowd of sup­port­ers dur­ing an elec­tion cam­paign rally last April.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.