Steenhuisen's future as DA leader under threat as polls loom, say party insiders

Insiders said that a year into the job, he had failed to provide clarity on the direction he wanted to steer the DA in.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen at the party’s manifesto launch on 25 September 2021. Picture: @Our_DA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Some Democratic Alliance (DA) insiders say that the upcoming elections could put at risk John Steenhuisen’s future at the helm of the party, a position that he took over after his predecessor was shown the door for a poor showing at the elections.

Steenhuisen faced his first internal defeat when federal executive members rejected the controversial posters praising those that took up arms in Phoenix, where more than 30 people died in what has been largely described as racial attacks.

Insiders said that a year into the job, he had failed to provide clarity on the direction he wanted to steer the DA in.

When former DA leader Mmusi Maimane tweeted "Judas Steenhuisen" following his messy exit from the DA, it was seen as a sign that he felt betrayed by the man who succeeded him.

Fast forward to 2021 and Steenhuisen is himself facing pressure to win big at the 1 November polls.

Several party members said that the federal executive rejecting the posters that Steenhuisen avidly defended should be seen as a warning bell.

This as others are asking if the party should chase the Afrikaner voter at all cost, risking isolating other constituencies.

He is said to be struggling to win support internally, with some saying that he has lost favour from long-time and powerful DA leader, Helen Zille.

Insiders said that a year since his ascension, he had reasserted discipline within the DA but failed to provide clarity on leadership style and vision for the party.

Members of the party’s decision-making body said that he had to grow the party’s electoral support by convincing margins, arguing that it was facing a troubled African National Congress (ANC), battling numerous internal battles and financial constraints.

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