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DA leader Mmusi Maimane has is­sued a di­rec­tive to prov­inces to pro­duce lists of di­verse can­di­dates, as he pre­pares to make good on his promise to trans­form the DA benches in Par­lia­ment next year.

The plans, which have seen re­sis­tance from some in the party, will take shape when the fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive meets to con­sol­i­date the pro­vin­cial lists, in­di­cat­ing who they want sent to Par­lia­ment.

Maimane will re­in­force those lists with his per­sonal se­lec­tion of five MPs. He is cur­rently in the process of re­cruit­ing them from out­side the party.

“Se­lec­tion pan­els are sit­ting. We have en­sured that pools of re­cruits are di­verse ... I will fur­ther en­gage at fedex, where the lists are de­lib­er­ated, and will en­sure that the can­di­dates I in­tro­duce, as a pre­rog­a­tive of the leader, will be di­verse,” Maimane told City Press.

Fedex has the power to re­move can­di­dates in favour of oth­ers for the sake of achiev­ing di­ver­sity; a white can­di­date can be re­moved in favour of a black one. Maimane said that the process would be guided by the newly adopted di­ver­sity clause.

On the im­pact that for­mer Cape Town mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille’s newly an­nounced po­lit­i­cal party could have on the DA, Maimane said he was not wor­ried.

“If an elec­tion were to be held to­day, we would re­tain the West­ern Cape; that is not an is­sue.”

In 2014, when the last gen­eral elec­tions were held, the DA walked away with 57% of the vote, the ANC with 34% and the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) with 2%.

Dur­ing the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, the DA took home 63%, the ANC 26% and the EFF 3%. Voter turnout in 2016 was around 10% less than that of 2014 as is the trend with lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

“Pa­tri­cia de Lille has been plan­ning a party for a long time; it’s why she sought to dis­tract the DA when we sought to hold her ac­count­able.

“We are the only party that is cre­at­ing work, and vot­ers in the West­ern Cape know that they would not want the prov­ince to re­turn to the ANC, which is what Pa­tri­cia’s party could do.

“So we are con­fi­dent we will re­tain the West­ern Cape. There are al­ways new par­ties that start be­fore an elec­tion. Vot­ers recog­nise that the only party ca­pa­ble of un­seat­ing the ANC is the DA,” Maimane said.

De Lille ended a long-held sus­pi­cion last week when she an­nounced that she would be form­ing a new or­gan­i­sa­tion, though it is still with­out a name.

While she wouldn’t re­veal her ex­act prospects, the for­mer mayor said that in­de­pen­dent polls had been con­ducted by mar­ket re­search firm Ip­sos to de­ter­mine her pop­u­lar­ity and how that might look in elec­toral terms.

The DA pos­si­bly faces an­other chal­lenge in the West­ern Cape in the form of the Gatvol Capeto­nian move­ment.

The group, which has threat­ened to regis­ter as a po­lit­i­cal party, pur­ports to cham­pion the in­ter­ests of coloured peo­ple.

It has also called for the West­ern Cape to be in­de­pen­dent of South Africa.

Maimane said his party “is en­gag­ing with vot­ers, fo­cused on our mes­sage of One SA for all, with a di­verse list of premier can­di­dates, and team 1 SA. We are in full cam­paign mode. We are gov­ern­ing bet­ter than any other party. Metro gov­ern­ments are de­liv­er­ing pos­i­tives out­comes, and the prov­ince is re­ceiv­ing clean au­dits ... This is what this elec­tion is about and so we are not ner­vous about Pa­tri­cia and other par­ties.”

The DA, which only gov­erns in the West­ern Cape, will look to se­cure two more prov­inces next year.

“We are fo­cused on form­ing gov­ern­ments in Gauteng and the North­ern Cape. This will be im­por­tant for us to bring change that cre­ates work, re­moves cor­rup­tion and builds one SA for all. Ev­ery ef­fort to re­duce the ANC na­tion­ally is im­por­tant, to hold them to ac­count for years of cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture. This is the change SA needs,” he added.

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