Helen Zille’s decision to run for the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Federal Council chair position appears to have thrown a spanner in the works in the political battle unfolding within the party.
Zille made the announcement earlier on Friday, saying she has been approached by party leaders who were concerned about the state of the organisation.
Outgoing chair James Selfe is expected to step down at the party’s federal council in two weeks’ time after he was assigned to head the DA’s new government unit.
Several party leaders that Eyewitness News spoke to said that while they knew Zille was plotting a political comeback, they didn’t see it coming.
Zille’s decision to re-enter direct politics is arguably not coincidental, as it comes when her former protégé Mmusi Maimane fights for his political life amid scandals involving a Steinhoff-sponsored car he used and a house he is accused of renting from a benefactor.
Maimane told EWN this week that this is an attack on his integrity by his colleagues who were against diversity in the party and who wanted to reclaim what he called “the old DA”.
Questions are now being raised if Zille’s return is part of this project.
On Friday, she said she was coming back because she wanted to “get the party back on track”.
The question now is whether getting the party back on track includes getting rid of Maimane; and if she is appointed federal chair, how is she going to work with the DA leader when she doesn’t seem to have confidence in him anymore, while he no longer regards her as a mentor.
MAIMANE CLEARED OF ALL WRONG DOING
The DA has cleared its leader of any financial wrongdoing regarding the Steinhof-sponsored car he used and the house he is currently renting.
The party’s finance committee initiated an investigation at the request of Maimane after he was accused of having insisted on using the car even after the company’s fraud scandal was exposed.
There were also claims that he wasn’t paying a market-related lease for the house he currently stays in.
Finance committee chair Dion Geroge said he concluded that there was a delay in returning the car to Steinhoff because Maimane was on an international trip to the US.
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