Helen Zille. Picture: REUTERS
Helen Zille. Picture: REUTERS

Helen Zille has thrown her name in the hat to take over arguably the most powerful position in the DA.

The former party leader said in a post on her social media pages on Friday that she has decided to apply for the position of federal council chair. The current chair, James Selfe, will step down after nearly almost two decades later this month. 

Selfe resigned following the DA’s dismal election results in May this year in which it lost support for the first time. He will now head the DA’s governance unit. 

Whoever holds the position, effectively acts as the opposition party’s political CEO, and the role is equivalent to that of the ANC’s secretary-general.


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“After careful consideration and consultation, I have submitted nomination forms to contest the position of chair of the DA’s federal council. I did so earlier today, after being approached by various senior leaders throughout the week,” Zille said in a short statement on Facebook. 

Zille resigned as DA leader in 2015 and was replaced by Mmusi Maimane, who is serving his second term of leading the party.  Maimane’s leadership has come under fire in recent weeks. Earlier in the week, the Institute of Race Relations, where Zille is currently employed, shared an opinion piece by one of its analysts calling for Maimane to be removed as leader. 

Zille said in her Friday post: “In recent months, the DA has been through a period of turmoil and distress. As a party, it is important for us to reflect, to introspect and to begin the process of reconnecting with voters”.   

She added that if elected as chair of the federal council, her objective would be to support the leadership in its goal of stabilising the party and getting it back on track.

“I love the DA, and the values it represents — freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity. SA cannot succeed unless the DA succeeds. I am prepared to work hard and to play my part in saving our democracy,” Zille said. 

Nominations for the position closed on Friday. 

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