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Acid test for divided DA

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Zille has vowed to stay in her lane and to work in the background while Maimane is the leader of the party

South Africa - Johannesburg - 20 October 2019 - Democratic Alliance (DA) today chose the former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille as their new Federal Council leader to succeed James Selfe at their head offices in Bruma Johannesburg.She held a press conference with DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

When it comes to South African politics, divisions within parties and factional elements result in voter apathy. We have seen this with Cope and more recently with the ANC, with undecided voters deciding to abstain from voting rather than bank on indecision.

The factional rift in the DA has been exposed with the divide threatening the leadership of Mmusi Maimane and leaving many wondering where the party is heading in terms of ideology and policy.

This weekend’s federal conference where Helen Zille emerged as the chair will do little to instil confidence in the party. The gathering is widely seen as a leadership battle in the run-up to the party’s national elective congress in 2021 at which leader Maimane’s future will be decided.

Zille has vowed to stay in her lane and to work in the background while Maimane is the leader of the party. But before her election there was already concern that the old guard of the party was concerned over the direction in which it was heading and were preparing to wrest back control.

The party’s dismal showing at the national elections which revealed a drop in national support from 22.23% to 20.77% and the leaked scandals over Maimane’s R4million rented home and the car donated by controversial company Steinhoff International have been used by those who want him out to justify the need for a new leader.

Time will tell if Maimane’s vision for the DA to become a more progressive party will become reality or if it is to return to its pure liberal ideals.