Former DA leader Helen Zille has thrown her hat into the ring to succeed James Selfe as the chairperson of the federal council, paving the way for a political comeback.
The former premier of the Western Cape announced via social media this afternoon that she had formally submitted her nomination form earlier today.
“After careful consideration and consultation, I have submitted nomination forms to contest the position of chair of the DA's Federal Council. I did so earlier today, after being approached by various senior leaders throughout the week,” Zille wrote.
“In recent months, the DA has been through a period of turmoil and distress. As a party, it is important for us to reflect, to introspect and to begin the process of reconnecting with voters. If elected as chairperson of the Federal Council, my objective will be to support the leadership in its goal of stabilising the party and getting it back on track. “
The stunning announcement comes as party leader Mmusi Maimane – who succeeded Zille in 2015 – fights for political survival, with his opponents fighting tooth and nail for his demise.
The powerful position that Zille will be standing for is one elected by the federal council, which is the highest decision-making body between conferences. That body is scheduled to sit on October 18 for the election of the position as well as to receive a the report from a review panel - headed up by Ryan Coetzee – on the party’s dismal show at the May polls.
Other names that have been touted to take over from Selfe include former head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, federal executive chairperson Athol Trolip and federal council deputy chairperson Thomas Walters.
Zille and Maimane, who were once close allies had a falling out around the time that the leader was forced to institute disciplinary action against the former leader for a series of tweets that appeared to endorse aspects of colonialism. The drawn-out process, which saw Zille sanctioned from party activities, saw battle lines drawn between those who rallied behind each leader.
“I love the DA, and the values it represents – freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity. South Africa cannot succeed unless the DA succeeds. I am prepared to work hard and to play my part in saving our democracy,” she said.