DA’s federal executive and national management committee will be discussing
ways to ensure that both its policy and elective conferences go ahead this
Interim party leader John
Steenhuisen told News24 this week that the idea of getting 2 500 people into a
venue during the deadly coronavirus outbreak was “frankly
optimistic”, adding that there were different models that could be used
for party members to vote for both a new leader and a policy position the DA
needed to pursue.
“I think we are going to
have to have leadership elections,” Steenhusien said.
Steenhuisen, in a recording of
the “One more thing with Tshidi Madia” podcast, said innovative ways
to make this happen had to be considered.
The DA, like all other political
parties, halted large gatherings as the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa’s
shores last month, moving its two conferences to November.
“There’s various other
models that are used in other countries. Britain elect their party leaders via
a postal vote. We will see how we can use technology, decentralising voting
perhaps at various provincial centres, perhaps where people can come in smaller
numbers with social distancing to cast a vote in front of scrutineers,”
He is one of three leaders vying
for the position, alongside former DA youth leader and now member of the
KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Mbali Ntuli, as well as Gauteng leader John Moodey.
All three suspended their
campaigns in light of the crisis.
“I need to be given a
mandate by the broader party to lead the party, particularly given the fact
that local government elections are looming,” said Steenhuisen.
He said there were several things
he wanted to do as leader in the DA, after receiving a proper mandate from the
“I certainly do not want to
lead the party in the current circumstances into another year.”
He said whoever was elected to
the position would need to be given enough time to establish themselves and
their brand of leadership ahead of the 2021 local government elections.
South Africa is in a battle
against time, trying to stop the spread of the pandemic that has killed more
than 100 000 people across the globe and infected more than two million.
In SA, 52 people have died so
far, while 3 034 have tested positive for the virus.
“South Africa is going to
fundamentally change throughout the course of this period; big public
gatherings need to be limited, mask wearing needs to become a function, social
distancing must remain, self-isolation of the vulnerable sections of the
population have to remain, PPE is going to be absolutely required everywhere,”
The main opposition party in the
country has spent most of the past year in crisis mode. It lost support at the
2019 general elections and was hit by the resignations of then-leader Mmusi
Maimane and former federal chairperson Athol Trollip, following the return of
long-time leader Helen Zille as federal council chairperson.
Some in the DA had hoped the
conferences, which were initially set for April and May, would be a path back