Trollip vows to stand by Zille

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

The Eastern Cape leader of the DA, Athol Trollip, yesterday pledged his "full support" for the party's new national leader, Helen Zille.

Zille was elected on Sunday at the party's federal congress in Gauteng.

She took over from Tony Leon, who had been the party's leader for 13 years.

Zille beat two other contenders: Trollip and federal council chairman Joe Seremane.

On Monday, Trollip wrote to Zille and pledged his support. He said Zille had the strong leadership qualities necessary to take the party forward.

He said the fact that the Cape Town mayor was the choice of many party members from other parts of the country showed that she was a great leader.

"Obviously, I am disappointed about not being selected, but I am willing to work with her in building the party and taking it from strength to strength," Trollip told Sowetan.

Despite his unsuccessful leadership bid, Trollip has not thrown in the towel. He intends to contest for the top position in the party next time it become vacant.

If he had won the race, Trollip said, he would have recruited more people from the black communities, dealt with floor-crossing and strengthened the party's structures in all the provinces.

Zille said Trollip deserved recognition. She described him as a man who understands what the party must do to grow.

"He knows that South Africa needs leaders who can speak each other's language. He sets the example by taking up the issues ordinary South Africans care about. "Trollip has earned his place in the top ranks of the DA and I hope he will continue to play a role in shaping its future."