Mmusi Maimane (left) and Athol Trollip (right) announce their resignation on Wednesday. Picture VELI NHLAPO
Mmusi Maimane (left) and Athol Trollip (right) announce their resignation on Wednesday. Picture VELI NHLAPO

The DA’s federal council, the party’s highest decision-making body between congresses, will be convened as soon as possible to elect an interim leader.

This was after former leader Mmusi Maimane, as well as the former federal chair Athol Trollip, both resigned on Wednesday after a lengthy meeting of the party’s federal executive.

This created a constitutional conundrum, as the federal chair would ordinarily act as leader, but given Trollip’s resignation the DA remains leaderless.

The party’s constitution is silent as to what happens when both positions are vacant.

“The DA is in the business of ensuring that the democratic project is not derailed by either internal or external issues. We can waste no time in working for an inclusive, prosperous democracy. To this end, strong and stable leadership in the DA is essential,” the party’s newly elected federal council chair Helen Zille said on Thursday.

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The decision to hold the federal council meeting as soon as possible was taken after an opinion compiled by the party’s federal legal commission was discussed by the DA’s federal executive on Thursday. Zille said the federal council will now elect the interim leader and interim federal chair.

The DA’s federal council last weekend decided to go to an early congress, in line with a recommendation by a review panel appointed in the wake of the 2019 general elections in which the DA lost support for the first time.

The federal executive has now given more details, saying the federal congress will be convened as soon as practicably possible, with a provisional target of April 2020. Zille said the DA’s political and operational structures have already begun work on this.

Maimane’s resignation from the party came ahead of a caucus meeting on Thursday at which he was expected to be booted as head of the official opposition in parliament.

The DA caucus said a new election for the party’s parliamentary leader has to be held. A date still has to be confirmed for the caucus election, however, nominations are open for the position until 8pm on Friday, October 25.

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