Jacques Smalle. Picture: DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE
Jacques Smalle. Picture: DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

The choice of the DA’s provincial leader in Limpopo as candidate for premier in the 2019 national elections is creating discontent among party members.

Some have questioned whether the move by the DA’s provincial executive committee was true to the spirit of an open opportunity society.

The province, which is seen as a nonstrategic one by the DA, had opened up applications for premier candidate along with the rest of the provinces.

The DA is the only big political party in SA which recruits public representatives who are not card-carrying members.

Even though the party has not set its sights on a coalition government in Limpopo, an ANC stronghold where the EFF also has a solid footprint, the DA does govern with other parties in two hung municipalities.

Applicants for the candidacy were informed in an e-mail that the provincial executive committee had decided at a meeting on July 12 that the first person on its list of representatives at the provincial legislature would be the premier candidate.

Number one

Provincial leader Jacques Smalle is number one on the list and would thus become the premier candidate.

The resolution was communicated to the DA’s federal executive, Limpopo chairperson Geoffrey Tshibvumo said.

A DA member in the province, who declined to be named, said the provincial executive committee’s resolution was inconsistent with the spirit of the DA’s constitution and it took away people’s right to contest for public office.

Another member, with intimate knowledge of the details around the application process but who also declined to be named, asked why the process was open for applications if the provincial leader would be automatically nominated.

Smalle, who applied along with Tshedza Tshivhasa Sikhwari and Rembuluwani Thelma Marole, said he had not attended the provincial executive committee meeting which decided on his candidature.

Limpopo’s provincial regulations had always provided for the provincial leader to hold the top position on any of the lists.

Limpopo and Mpumalanga were the only provinces seen as nonstrategic, which allowed for the province to make decisions under its own regulations, Smalle said.

The premier hopefuls were asked to write a motivation letter, explaining why they would be the right candidate for the job. He had also submitted one.

At any rate, the candidacy was not automatic, as the recommendation had been made to the federal executive — which would have to give its view. If the federal executive found that the process was not sufficiently transparent, it would say so, Smalle said.

James Selfe, chairman of the federal executive, said one had to allow provincial autonomy to take its course, and that this is what happened in this case.

"The only time we get involved is when there are strategic provinces and then there is a federally determined process," Selfe said.