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Zille parks IRR fellowship to chase DA Federal Council chair position

This comes after Zille's shock announcement on Frida that she intends on running for the position of DA Federal Council chair.

FILE: Hellen Zille is ready to step back into the political ring after announcing her intention to run for the DA Federal Council chairmanship. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Institute of Race Relations has announced that former Democratic Alliance (DA) head Helen Zille has resigned as senior policy fellow at the institute.

This comes after Zille's shock announcement on Friday that she intends on running for the position of DA Federal Council chair.

The institute said that the former Western Cape premiere's suspension of her employment at the institute was in line with its rules.

Zille said she's pleased with her decision.

“My decision surprised me too. I only decided this morning and the only time I started considering it seriously was yesterday. But I have been speaking to a significant number of people, over the course of the past 24 hours, and a lot of people have been approaching me, so I decided to put my hat in the ring.”

The election, to be held in October, will be to replace James Selfe, who is standing down from the position after more than two decades of service.

In a Facebook post, Zille said that in recent months, the DA had been through a period of turmoil and distress.

"As a party, it is important for us to reflect, to introspect and to begin the process of reconnecting with voters. If elected as Chairperson of the Federal Council, my objective will be to support the leadership in its goal of stabilising the party and getting it back on track.

"I love the DA, and the values it represents – freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity. South Africa cannot succeed unless the DA succeeds. I am prepared to work hard and to play my part in saving our democracy," Zille said.

MMUSI MAIMANE FIERCELY CRITICISED OVER STEINHOFF 'DONATION'

Earlier in the week, the DA slammed the IRR over an opinion by one of its analysts calling for Mmusi Maimane to step down as party leader following questions raised about a house he rented in Cape Town and a car donation from Steinhoff.

IRR analyst and writer, Hermann Pretorius, penned an opinion piece on Tuesday in which he said the DA was still reeling from its worst electoral performance in the general elections earlier this year.

Pretorius said the party had to “reject the notion that the skin colour of politicians had any bearing on their ability to improve the lives of their constituents”.

The DA won 20.77% of the votes in those elections, which was 470,396 fewer people who voted for the party in the polls than it did in 2009.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen hit out at the IRR, saying the party rejected with contempt the “naked opportunism” displayed by the institute with its “latest missive, in which it apparently seeks to raise funds in support of a presumed leadership contest within the DA”.

Video: Maimane 'We were duped by Steinhoff'

Recently, Maimane came under fire following controversies that laid bare divisions within the DA. It was reported that he had declared a Claremont house worth almost R4 million as one of his assets on the parliamentary registry, which was later found he was renting from Durban businessperson Wessel Jacobs.

He also faced criticism for using a donated Toyota Fortuner from Steinhoff's former CEO Markus Jooste, which the DA said was returned following the revelations on the retail conglomerate’s “accounting irregularities”. Maimane, though, said the allegations against him were part of a smear campaign by “gutless individuals” who were spreading lies about him.

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela

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