PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA, May 11 — members of South African’s leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), have welcomed the election of Mmusi Maimane, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, as their new leader, succeeding Hellen Zille.
Maimane becomes the first black leader of the DA after he was elected at the party’s 2015 Federal Congress held at the Boardwalk Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Athol Trollip was elected Federal Chairperson of the party while the three Deputy Federal Chairperson positions went to Ivan Meyer, Refiloe Ntsekhe and Desiree van der Walt. The Chairperson of the Federal Council is James Selfe, who was unopposed.
The position of Deputy Chairperson of the Federal Council went to Thomas Walters and Chairperson of the Federal Finance Committee is Alf Lees.
A total of 21 nominations were received for the seven positions available. According to Presiding Officer for the Congress, Penny Tainton, of the 1,379 potential voting delegates, 1,283 people cast their vote with a total percentage poll of 93 per cent on Sunday.
Zille, who is Premier of Western Cape Province, the only one of South Africa’s nine provinces not controlled by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, meanwhile, dismissed suggestions she will be a puppet-master to the newly-elected party leader, who might be indebted to her for the belief she has had in him.
“I don’t believe in trying to rule from behind or lead from behind. I am going to do the best job I can as Premier of the Western Cape and in any way the DA leadership wants me to support or help in whatever capacity, I’m there to do it,” she added.
“But I am not there to try and give advice from the side or second guess. I believe in giving people a chance to do their job.”
Zille said she was confident that she had made the right decision to step down as party leader and has further insisted she was not pushed into relinquishing her position.
“I spent a long time thinking about this decision. I knew when I was elected I would only stay 10 years at most. I think two five-year terms is fine. But then I was wondering do I go at 8 years or do I wait for that other two years and I spent about six months thinking about it, and about a month ago I thought: ‘Now is the time!'”