Distance: DA leader Mmusi Maimane and former party leader Helen Zille at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday announcing a political settlement. Picture: AFP PHOTO
Distance: DA leader Mmusi Maimane and former party leader Helen Zille at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday announcing a political settlement. Picture: AFP PHOTO

All candidates standing for the position of DA's federal council chair, including former leader Helen Zille, are eligible for the post, the party's presiding officer of federal council elections Desiree van der Walt has said.

“I am satisfied that all those who have been nominated have been fully vetted and meet the criteria to stand as candidate of chairperson of federal council,” Van der Walt said on Monday.

Business Day earlier reported that Zille might not be eligible for the position after reaching a settlement in January 2018 with the DA to step down from all structures, after her comments on social media that the legacy of colonialism was not only negative.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Business Day the party was getting legal advice on whether she could now stand for the position, which is akin to a party’s political CEO.

Zille’s announcement on Friday that she had applied for the post came out of left field in a leadership race which was initially touted as one that would be between federal chair Athol Trollip and deputy federal council chair Thomas Walters.

The position opened up after James Selfe resigned to head up the DA's governance unit — which takes effect in October — in the wake of the May general elections in which the party lost significant support.

Zille, Trollip, Walters and deputy federal chair Mike Waters, who recently demanded accountability and transparency from Maimane, who is experiencing an onslaught against his leadership, have thrown their hats in the ring for the powerful position.

On Monday, Van der Walt reminded all the candidates and their campaign teams of the rules of engagement, which precluded them from negative campaigning.

“We trust that all the candidates, namely Athol Trollip, Thomas Walters, Mike Waters and Helen Zille, will campaign on their own credentials and their offer of building a party that espouses the values of freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity, with a vision of building one SA for all,” she said.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za