The DA recently announced its shortlist of premier candidates for the nine provinces ahead of the 2019 elections. There are 31 names in total and the first thing that strikes you about them is just how thin the layer of cream at the top is. There are no superstars — people with big national political profiles. It is the list of a party stretched to its absolute limit by the 2016 local government elections, and left, it appears, with very few top-flight politicians in reserve. Many will remember the famous 2011 DA election poster that boasted Helen Zille, Patricia de Lille and Lindiwe Mazibuko standing side-by-side. Happy days. But all three are gone now; if not literally, then in spirit, and if not in spirit, then clinging on to life by a thread. Some of those were more manufactured than others but all three were vote winners on a national scale. Today, in Maimane, the DA has only one, what you might call, "premier" national figure. A few people populate Division One. In the likes o...

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