DA calls urgent council meeting to elect interim leader

24 October 2019 - 15:34
Both DA leader Mmusi Maimane and DA federal chair Athol Trollip quit the party on Wednesday.
Image: Alaister Russell Both DA leader Mmusi Maimane and DA federal chair Athol Trollip quit the party on Wednesday.

The DA has resolved to hold an urgent federal council meeting to elect an interim party leader after the shock resignation of Mmusi Maimane on Wednesday.

The urgent federal council, to be held at a date yet to be announced, will also elect an interim federal chairperson to fill the post left vacant by Athol Trollip who also resigned, in support of Maimane, on Wednesday.

This was announced on Thursday by DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille after another urgent meeting of the party's federal executive, which met to consider legal advice on how to fill the leadership vacuum.

The DA plunged into a leadership crisis when Maimane and Trollip dramatically quit their positions simultaneously on Wednesday after the election of Zille as the chairperson of the federal council on Sunday.

Their resignation was preceded by that of City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba on Monday, who told a press briefing that the DA that elected Zille on Sunday was not the party he joined.

Maimane’s resignation also left the DA leaderless in parliament, where he also served as the leader of the official opposition.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen ceased to occupy that position upon Maimane's resignation, because he had been appointed by him in terms of party's constitution.

In a statement on Thursday, after a meeting of the party's federal executive, Zille said the DA had to ensure that the democratic project was not derailed by either internal or external issues.

“The FedEx was convened on Thursday morning to study a legal opinion by the DA federal legal commission on the steps required to fill the leadership vacancies in a way that does not undermine the federal constitution and does not negatively affect the political operations of the DA,” said Zille.

“The federal council (FedCo) will be convened as soon as practically possible; FedCo will elect an Interim federal leader and an interim federal chairperson; a federal congress will be convened as soon as practically possible, with a provisional target of April 2020,” said Zille.

Meanwhile, MP Annelie Lotriet said in a statement that as caucus chairperson, she would act as the DA's interim parliamentary leader until a caucus election took place. The DA’s deputy chief whip, Jacques Julius, will act as interim chief whip.