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DA prepares for shift in Parliament leadership now

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There will be intense lobbying and campaigning in the next six months ahead of the party’s April congress

THE DA is going to have an early conference in April next year to decide on a new leader after a week of drama that saw its leaders quit in numbers.

But its conference is not the panacea for all its problems. The resignation of chief whip John Steenhuisen, due to his term of office being linked to that of Mmusi Maimane, means the DA is preparing for a shift in leadership in Parliament now too.

The new Parliamentary leader, who will be elected next week, will have to elect his or her new Shadow Cabinet and is likely to get rid of DA MPs aligned to Maimane.

Helen Zille does not qualify to lead the DA in Parliament at this stage because the Independent Electoral Commission would only allow for amendments of party lists next year.

Whoever is going to lead the DA in Parliament would be in charge of a big caucus, and must liaise with party leaders in Joburg.

But the catch is also that the race for the top job – after Maimane quit – begins now, irrespective of who is elected as interim party leader before the congress.

There will be intense lobbying and campaigning in the next six months ahead of the party’s April congress.

Maimane had already called for an early congress after he was slated by the report on the performance of the party in the national and general elections this year.

But the next six months will be bruising for the DA as people jostle for positions.

The departure of Maimane, Steenhuisen and others is not the end of the resignations, either in Parliament or national leadership.

It’s not a question of if, but when. The ball is in the court of the DA to get things into shape. But this won’t happen, and the political fallout will come at a cost sooner rather than later.

The fight for the control of the caucus in Parliament will give an indication of how the party will choose its new leader in the congress next year.

This is a fight that will go down to the wire. If this week was anything to go by, the next six months will be even more intense for the party.