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Trollip confident he'll beat Zille in DA Federal Council chair contest

The four-way contest for the key position pits Athol Trollip against Helen Zille, as well as MPs Thomas Walters and Mike Waters.

FILE: Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip addressing delegates at the DA’s elective congress in Tshwane. Picture: @Our_DA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip is certain he will beat former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille when it comes to the vote for a new Federal Council chairperson, and he also suggested that Zille’s time in politics has run its course.

The Eastern Cape leader chairs the DA and now has his sights set on what is arguably one of the most influential posts in the party.

The four-way contest for the key position pits Trollip against Zille, as well as MPs Thomas Walters and Mike Waters.

A bullish Trollip is adamant that he is the person who can take the DA forward and reverse the electoral losses it suffered during the last elections.

“I believe that I will win against Helen – I’ve been doing my canvassing and I know what’s happening with the responses I’ve been having – but I also believe that I represent the future in the party and that people will give me the nod on that basis," Trollip said.

The contest has cast a spotlight on underlying tensions within the DA, with leader Mmusi Maimane claiming to be the target of a smear campaign questioning his ability to lead.

Trollip would not be drawn on Maimane’s future within the party, saying it was a matter for the party’s congress to decide, as it had elected him.

He was more forthcoming about Helen Zille, against whom he lost in party leadership elections 12 years ago.

Sixty-eight-year-old Zille said she wanted to help stabilise the DA, but Trollip, who is 55, believed the political career of the former DA leader, Cape Town mayor and Western Cape premier was over.

“There is a time to come and a time to go in politics, as far as I am concerned,” he added.

Trollip believed his age and his experience would count in his favour when party delegates vote later this month. He has been working the phones and having meetings for some time already, as he lobbies for support for his bid for the top spot.

“I’m doing what any serious contender would do, I am phoning every single person and engaging people face to face that are on the voters’ roll that will be voting at the federal council. I am counting those that are for me, those that are against and those that are undecided. And then I will work harder on the undecideds to convince them that I am the right candidate,” he said.

Trollip believes his track record in the party speaks for itself.

“I’ve never turned my back on the party, through thick and thin - and the fact that I've led in various positions in this party, I've managed to develop good teams and good results and co-operation. I think being multi-lingual helps and my reputation goes before me, so I think I have enough support in the party to fill this position,” he added

At the same time, Trollip said he was not taking anything for granted.

“Until the last vote is cast, I will be working to win the nomination,” he concluded.

Around 150 delegates from across all nine provinces, including members of Parliament and provincial legislatures, DA structures and branches will gather in Johannesburg on 20 October to vote in a replacement for the long-serving James Selfe.

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