Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela will not stand for federal leadership position

Bonginkosi Madikizela says the DA is not in a crisis but is undergoing changes.
Bonginkosi Madikizela says the DA is not in a crisis but is undergoing changes.
Image: Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Jaco Marais

DA leader in the Western Cape Bonginkosi Madikizela will not stand for the position of federal leader when the party elects new leaders in May.

Madikizela wrote to party structures on Monday morning saying  he will not avail himself for a national leadership position, but will seek to retain his provincial role when the Western Cape goes to its next congress later in the year.

“I am not withdrawing. You can only withdraw if you threw your name in in the first place,” he told TimesLIVE. “People were using the conversation from last time when I said I would consider standing in May, but I never put my name in the hat.

"I think I owe it to my constituency, especially the people who are hearing this in the news, as it confuses them. I wanted to clear the confusion, particularly for members of the party, so that they know where they stand with me, hence the letter. It is to clarify that I am not availing myself. I am not available,” he said.

In his letter, addressed to constituency heads, regional chairpersons and mayors, Madikizela said the DA had suffered “a minor setback” in 2019 and was facing challenges, “but we are not in crisis as some alarmists claim”.

“Parties go through these challenges from time to time, influenced by various factors nationally and globally. Those who’ve been in politics long enough will know this.”

He said the party's post-election review report had, to a large extent, diagnosed some of the problems. “I don’t agree with everything in it but by and large it's a true reflection of why we are haemorrhaging. In our effort to lure many supporters from elusive constituencies, some of us resorted to populist rhetoric,” he said.

This, Madikizela wrote, created confusion among DA supporters.

“Our policies became a reaction to what the governing party is doing wrong, instead of having a clear position on key areas like economic empowerment, justice and affirmative action. Our brand is bleeding because of these things.”

In our effort to lure supporters from elusive constituencies, some of us resorted to populist rhetoric

Madikizela called for bold decisions by the DA and proposed a rebranding of the party, with input from South Africans who do not want to be associated with the party but had lost hope in the governing party, “otherwise it's a lose/lose situation”. He said this was  the situation South Africans find themselves in and “the fact that the ANC under Cyril Ramaphosa will not save South Africa”.

“We have sound proposals to save South Africa, we have a good track record in government, we have a strong infrastructure and effective systems in place. But we need to rebuild trust, be clear on our policy position and have a coherent message. I’ll be making some of these proposals at our policy congress and then elective congress,” he said.

He will not be contesting the DA federal leader’s position “until we have all these building blocks in place”, Madikizela said.

“For now I will focus on my role as the leader of the party in the Western Cape. I will be availing myself again in this position in the upcoming provincial congress for my second term.

“The stability of the Western Cape is crucial to the stability of the party nationally. I will use that as a platform to influence these proposals,” he said.

Madikizela added that he will also focus on his responsibility as the MEC for transport and public works, where he is working with the national government and other stakeholders to fix transport problems in the province, especially rail.

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