DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: ALON SKUY​
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: ALON SKUY​

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has decided not to avail himself to take up Helen Zille’s post as premier of the Western Cape, opting instead to focus on preparing the party for the 2019 polls.

The DA has set its sights on installing DA premiers in both Gauteng and the Northern Cape, as well as grow its support nationally in elections that are sure to be highly contested.

Growing the party’s support during the elections would be crucial for Maimane, who is serving his second term as the DA’s federal leader.

The party’s next federal congress takes place in 2021, the same year as the next local government elections.

Stagnating or worsening results could provide ammunition for those who might want to challenge him for the top position in the DA.

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said that Maimane informed a meeting of its federal executive committee on Tuesday that he had decided to decline the request for him to stand as the DA’s candidate for premier of the Western Cape.

Malatsi said the request made to Maimane "required careful consideration and consultation with the relevant party structures which made the initial request to him".

"The DA’s national electoral objectives stand as Mr Maimane’s number one priority, and the party stands behind his commitment to build a better SA and stronger DA.

"It is essential that we grow our support across the country in order to bring change that builds one SA for all," the spokesperson said.

Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde, MP David Maynier and Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela were seen as the frontrunners following interviews by the DA’s selection panel, before Maimane’s name came into the mix.

The DA’s federal executive met later on Tuesday to discuss its Western Cape premier candidate again, and will announce Zille’s successor on Wednesday.

Dan Plato, who will take over as Cape Town mayor when Patricia de Lille steps down at the end of October, will also attend the media briefing.

Plato is a former mayor of Cape Town, and took over the reins from Zille when she was elected as Western Cape premier in 2009.