Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, centre, and supporters after he was re-elected to the position of DA federal chairman. Trollip defeated Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga in a fiercely contested election at the party’s federal congress in Pretoria on Sunday. Picture: MASI LOSI
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip, centre, and supporters after he was re-elected to the position of DA federal chairman. Trollip defeated Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga in a fiercely contested election at the party’s federal congress in Pretoria on Sunday. Picture: MASI LOSI

Athol Trollip has retained his position as federal chairman of the DA, two days before he is to face a motion of no confidence as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay.

A DA congress that was billed as a battle for the soul of the party ended on Sunday with decisions that showed it was sticking to its liberal roots. The party hopes to push the ANC below a majority threshold in the 2019 elections and wants to win control of Gauteng.

Delegates adopted a diversity clause for the party’s constitution, but rejected diversity quotas to measure progress.

It also adopted a recall clause, which DA leader Mmusi Maimane said would take effect immediately. It would allow the party’s federal executive to terminate DA public representatives’ membership should they refuse to resign within 48 hours of such a request being made.

According to insiders, this was dubbed the “Patricia clause” and may be used to strip Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille of her membership.

Disciplinary action

De Lille is facing disciplinary action by the party after surviving a DA-sponsored motion of no confidence.

The party’s “old guard” was reaffirmed at the congress with Trollip’s re-election and the election of MP Mike Waters as one of his deputies.

Trollip said the DA affirming its liberal values was “critically important, because we must define ourselves differently to our political opponents. We have been different for decades and we are different.”

He said he was “delighted” with the outcomes of the congress, as people had been voting for the DA in greater numbers, knowing full well what it stood for. “I am pleased that we have not changed a winning recipe.”

Maimane was re-elected uncontested as leader of the DA. The party’s federal council chairman, James Selfe, who also heads the federal executive, was also elected unopposed.

Trollip said he was ready to face the motion of no confidence that was tabled by the EFF to punish the DA for not supporting its push for land expropriation without compensation. He said the no-confidence vote and the DA congress were unrelated events, but with his re-election behind him, he could “focus on keeping our government intact so that we can continue to change the people of Nelson Mandela Bay’s lives”.

The party included a diver-sity clause that affirms the value of the individual in its constitution, and took a stance against quotas in its constitutional principles. The clause indicated that the party would take “active steps” to promote and advance diversity in its ranks.

Maimane indicated at a media briefing after the congress that diversity would come via the recruitment of talent and not by measuring diversity as an “output”.

The party’s representatives in the government are mostly white people.

Trollip stood against Tshwane mayor Solly Msim-anga and DA Free State chairwoman Annelie Lotriet.

Trollip will serve a second term in the position. The DA does not publish its vote counts, but it is understood that the race was extremely close and the margins between the two men were small.

Dion George was elected the new federal finance chairman and Thomas Walters was re-elected as deputy chairman of the federal council.

The newly elected deputy federal chairmen were Ivan Meyer as first deputy, Waters as second deputy and Refiloe Nt’sekhe as third deputy.

Maimane said in his closing address to the congress that the responsibility of the leaders elected for three years would be to “build the DA and leave it a better, stronger, bigger organisation in three years’ time than it is today”.

Maimane said the DA’s purpose was not to fight for a better ANC, but for an entirely new government led by the DA.

He said the primary goal was to win Gauteng in 2019.

The party leader said getting South Africans into jobs would be the first priority of their economic policy.

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