Johannesburg – The DA said race will not be a factor in the election of a new leader at its weekend national elective congress following the dramatic exit of former party leader Mmusi Maimane in October.
As delegates prepare themselves for the all-important congress on Saturday and Sunday, all eyes will be on the front runners, former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli, and former party chief whip and now interim leader John Steenhuisen.
On Thursday, the DA’s congress presiding officer, Greg Krumbock, dismissed speculation that the outcome of the congress was likely to be influenced by racial preferences.
This came after various former DA leaders and provincial party leaders have expressed their leadership choice in various platforms including mainstream media and social media.
The latest support for Steenhuisen came from party veteran and former chief whip Douglas Gibson, who told the media the DA needed a “mature” and “experienced” leader to take it forward.
“I think you don’t send in your third team to go into a rugby test, you put your first team in. I think Mbali, nice as she is, clever as she is, good as she is, I think she is a little early. The DA has tried this on two occasions and has flopped,” Gibson said.
But Gibson’s comments came as no surprise as he and Ntuli had a public spat in the media after the former youth leader had admitted in public that she was running a family taxi business.
Gibson reportedly had said it was time for the party to elect a leader who was mature, knew what they were doing and who had served in Parliament; he further questioned how someone who had never experienced the National Assembly would be able to handle the party’s caucus, its supporters and go “toe-to-toe with the president and Cabinet in Parliament”.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has also posted his support for Steenhuisen on Facebook.
Last month, DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango endorsed the nomination of Ntuli.
Mncwango had said: “I will be supporting Mbali Ntuli because I believe she represents the future of this organisation and the country. You need such people who can take the country forward, I believe that she has that energy and she has grown within the organisation. We know what she has done and what she has achieved.”
Mncwango said he would be campaigning for Ntuli because he believed she was best suited for championing the party’s dream of building one South Africa for all.
But Krumbock on Thursday was adamant that race will not be a factor in voting saying both candidates enjoyed support across the racial groupings.