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Zille claims she’s backed by those who want to ‘heal’ the DA

Zille took some party members by surprise after she announced her submission of a nomination to replace James Selfe as federal chairperson.

FILE: Former DA leader Helen Zille takes pictures with supporters at the party’s Workers Day Rally on 1 May 2019. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Former Democratic Alliance (DA) head Helen Zille said there was no denying that the party was riddled with political infighting.

Zille took some party members by surprise after she announced her submission of a nomination to replace James Selfe as federal chairperson.

Zille said the party was united during her tenure.

“The people who are putting my name forward listen and think back to a time where there weren’t these divisions and they are trying to heal and end the divisions and give focus and drive to the party again. So, they want to stabilise the party, that is precisely the point.”

Meanwhile, DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said she was welcome to run.

“We are a democratic organisation, so members are free to nominate whoever they think their nominee should be.”

The DA has announced on Friday afternoon that the nominations for the federal executive had closed.

Zille will be up against Athol Trollip, Thomas Walters and Mike Waters.

FUTURE OF THE DA

Helen Zille’s decision to run for the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Federal Council chair position appears to have thrown a spanner in the works in the political battle unfolding within the party.

Several party leaders that Eyewitness News spoke to said that while they knew Zille was plotting a political comeback, they didn’t see it coming.

Zille’s decision to re-enter direct politics is arguably not coincidental, as it comes when her former protégé Mmusi Maimane fights for his political life amid scandals involving a Steinhoff-sponsored car he used and a house he is accused of renting from a benefactor.

Maimane told EWN this week that this is an attack on his integrity by his colleagues who were against diversity in the party and who wanted to reclaim what he called "the old DA".

Questions are now being raised if Zille’s return is part of this project.

On Friday, she said she was coming back because she wanted to “get the party back on track”.

The question now is whether getting the party back on track includes getting rid of Maimane; and if she is appointed federal chair, how is she going to work with the DA leader when she doesn’t seem to have confidence in him anymore, while he no longer regards her as a mentor.

MAIMANE CLEARED OF ALL WRONGDOING

The DA has cleared its leader of any financial wrongdoing regarding the Steinhof-sponsored car he used and the house he is currently renting.

The party’s finance committee initiated an investigation at the request of Maimane after he was accused of having insisted on using the car even after the company’s fraud scandal was exposed.

There were also claims that he wasn't paying a market-related lease for the house he currently stays in.

Finance committee chair Dion Geroge said he concluded that there was a delay in returning the car to Steinhoff because Maimane was on an international trip to the US.

Watch: Maimane: I never demanded the use of the vehicle

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela.

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