ZILLE SUCCESSION BATTLE
Mmusi Maimane becoming Western Cape premier ‘not set in stone’
It is not a done deal that Mmusi Maimane will be the DA’s choice to succeed Helen Zille as Western Cape premier, the DA leader’s spokesperson says.
It was reported on Sunday that Maimane is now in the running to be the DA’s Western Cape premier candidate, after he was initially announced, with much fanfare, during the party’s federal congress in April as its presidential candidate.
The Western Cape has been governed by a DA majority for two terms, with Zille due to step down when her second term ends just before the 2019 national elections.
The DA’s support could take a knock due to its public warfare with Patricia de Lille, who eventually agreed to step down as Cape Town mayor in October.
However, the party is still expected to win more than 50% of the vote in the Western Cape in the elections.
The DA was initially expected to make an announcement on who would follow in Zille’s footsteps, but this was postponed on Saturday.
Maimane spokesperson Portia Adams said on Sunday he was considering the premier role and that he was in extensive discussions with party structures to deliberate on the matter. "Maimane’s key consideration is what is best for the party, best for the DA and best for the residents of the Western Cape," she said, adding that it was not a "done deal". The DA’s federal executive would also discuss the matter before an announcement was made, "so it is not cut in stone".
If Maimane were to elect to do so, it was not unprecedented in the DA for the leader to be both a premier and presidential candidate, she pointed out.
Frontrunners for the premier role are Western Cape economic development MEC Alan Winde, MP David Maynier and DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.
The DA’s constitution says the federal leader is entitled to top the party representatives’ regional or parliamentary lists, and allowed to take up any premiership or mayoral position.
Madikizela said on Sunday it was Maimane’s right to stand, but that "the question is whether that decision is in the interest of the party in terms of our national strategic goals, and I think not".
The party’s strategic objectives for the 2019 election include installing DA premiers in Gauteng and the Northern Cape, and to increase its support in the Western Cape.
An announcement on the premier role is expected to be made on Tuesday, and on who will be mayor in Cape Town when De Lille steps down.
If Maimane decides to go for it, it would open up the position of DA leader in parliament, which he is holding.
The DA’s previous parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, took up the reins when Zille was party leader and premier at the same time.