Zille to remain WC Premier, exits DA leadership

Helen Zille has decided to step aside for a new leader to take over the reigns of the DA.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Outgoing Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille says she will continue to lead the Western Cape as premier but has decided to step aside for a new leader to take over the reigns of the party.

Zille started by clarifying the future.

Zille says she has been asked for almost two years now when she will make space for new blood to lead the party.

The party has been peppered with questions of whether it is ready for a black leader to take it forward.

Zille says despite not having the title of leader, she will help the DA as the 2016 municipal elections approach.

"Everybody sitting here will work just as hard as all of the rest of us because we're a team. I'll remain part of this team."

She has vowed not to dictate to new leaders what they should do, but to know her place in the party.

"In fact, they probably have to carry me out of a DA office on a stretcher one day and take me to the mortuary. So I will continue working for this cause in appropriate ways and not get in the way of new leadership."

The names of new candidates have to be submitted next week.

Meanwhile, there's been mixed reaction from opposition parties to the news of Zille stepping down.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's (IFP) Blessed Gwala says it is not their business to interfere in other party politics.

"As the IFP we have nothing to say if she decides to step down. But our worry is that as a leader of the DA, we thought she would be able to unify the divisions in KwaZulu-Natal."

Agang SA's Andries Tlouamma says this decision is late.

"It is overdue, because you can't have a party that is to protect the interests of a certain group of society."