Riyaz Patel

Former DA leader Helen Zille has executed a stunning political comeback after winning the race to be the DA’s new Federal Council Chairperson.

Zile beat of challenges from senior DA leaders Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters for the post.

After a highly-anticipated internal campaign, Zille won out after 155 party delegates voted for their preferred candidate at a federal council meeting at DA headquarters in Bruma, Johannesburg this weekend.

Zille has vowed to “stay in her lane” and assume a background role to that of party leader Mmusi Maimane, following her election to the post.

“I was very humbled and grateful in being elected and I know exactly what this role entails. I will stay in my lane. This is a job that coordinates different structures, function and systems of the DA,” she said.

Zille added that she would only participate when its required to ensure the structures and systems work for everyone to do the same.

Zille emphasized that she respected and supported Maimane, adding that she would do her best to ensure the leadership was successful and takes the party to new heights. 

Maimane and Zille’s relationship had been strained in the past few years, with the party leader having to haul his predecessor before the public to apologise over the tweets she made on colonialism in March 2017.

Some within the DA have speculated that her return signalled the return of pure liberal ideals in the party, and could also quell Maimane’s attempts for the party to be more progressive.

Zille paid tribute to Maimane for holding a successful council meeting adding that she was there to support Maimane in his role.

In congratulating Zille, Maimane said the DA had accepted a party-commissioned review panel report in principle and would give effect to some of its recommendations.

The review panel was commissioned by Maimane to assess the party’s losses in the recent general elections.

Chaired by former DA leader Tony Leon, reports indicated that the review had made recommendations that Maimane step down as party leader.

The party however, did not eloborate on this.


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