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DA denies Helen Zille's claims on election campaign to win over black voters

The DA has denied claims by Zille that she was publicly shunned by the party in their election campaign in an effort to gain black voters.

Former Leader of the DA, Helen Zille takes pictures with supporters at the party’s Workers Day Rally. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Democratic Alliance (DA) has rejected claims by former leader Helen Zille that she was publicly shamed by the party during the election campaign to woo black voters.

Zille made the claims in an opinion piece this weekend. But the leadership denied this and said Zille was involved in electioneering for the DA.

But Zille in a column claims this was an election strategy implemented by the leadership of the party.

Federal chairperson Athol Trollip denied this.

“To the contrary, actually, she was involved in the campaign right up until the end of the campaign. So, if she was being crushed out of the campaign, she wouldn’t have been participating. Helen Zille participated and promoted the DA across the country; she was an integral part of our campaign.”

Trollip said Zille remained an ordinary member of the DA and nothing more.

The party refused to be drawn into speculation of whether it plans to discipline Zille for her claims.

Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Sunday announced that long-term federal executive and council chairperson, James Selfe, would step down from his position in October.

Maimane said this was decided by the DA at their first federal council meeting following the general elections last month.

Selfe has been in the role for 19 years. He is expected to head up the DA’s governance unit, which is tasked with supporting the party’s governments to ensure that they deliver better services to citizens.

"This unit will require strong leadership to ensure that we accelerate delivery towards the next elections. James has both the skill, experience and institutional knowledge to spearhead this new unit, and I welcome this decision," Maimane said in a statement.

"James’s career in the DA, to date, spans over four decades – almost half of which he has served as the party’s federal chairperson. He will now relinquish that particular role, but his work in service of his country through the DA continues."

Selfe said he was honoured to have served the DA in the role.

"I’m privileged to have worked with Tony Leon, Helen Zille, and with Mmusi Maimane. I’ve seen this party grow from a 9% party to an over 20% party,” he said.

The DA said there was no immediate plan to appoint Selfe’s replacement.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)