Helen Zille now finds herself at the helm of the DA. Zille is acting as DA leader until the party’s federal council can appoint an interim leader, the DA’s Federal Law Commission decided today.
She is the acting leader because she has chaired the party’s federal executive since Sunday, the highest democratically elected position in the party.
An interim leader must now be appointed at the next session of the federal council and will act as leader until the delegates can elect a new party leader after the DA’s early federal congress in April.
According to John Steenhuisen, former chief whip of the DA, the next session of the federal council, which will designate the interim leader until April, could possibly take place next weekend.
Steenhuisen automatically lost his post, as Mmusi Maimane (the leader who appointed him) resigned. Steenhuisen continues as DA member and DA MP. He said several people had asked him to stand as parliamentary leader, that he was considering it favorably and that he would make an announcement at an appropriate time.
He has warned those who want to write the DA’s obituary to put away their pens because it is inappropriate and premature. “The DA is tough and has faced more serious challenges in the interests of the liberal ideal,” says Steenhuisen.
The same decision by the Federal Law Commission means Dr. Annelie Lotriet is acting parliamentary leader of the DA, until the DA’s parliamentary caucus can elect a new parliamentary leader.
Lotriet said she had already made a request to the DA’s federal executive board that they give permission for nominations for the position of parliamentary leader until Tuesday and that the caucus select the new parliamentary leader next Thursday. The federal executive is still considering the request, and their decision will be decisive.
The same finding from the Federal Law Commission means that current DA Deputy Chief Whip Jacques Julius is acting as Chief Whip because he holds the highest democratically elected position in the DA whip until the new parliamentary leader appoints a new Chief Whip.
One of the most important unanswered questions is how many prominent DA members like Maimane and the party’s former federal chairman, Athol Trollip, will also resign from the DA. Those members believe the recent triumph of the Zille faction over the Maimane faction represents a morally unacceptable DA swing to the right.