Western Cape’s Madikizela withdraws from DA leadership race

Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Image: Esa Alexander

The DA’s Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, has withdrawn from the leadership race to take over the reins of the party.

The DA will elect a new interim federal leader on Sunday after Mmusi Maimane resigned from his position and the party late in October.

Madikizela initially threw his name in the hat to take over from Maimane, but Desiree van der Walt, presiding officer of the party’s federal council election, said he withdrew his candidacy last week.

The battle for the party’s interim leadership will now be between parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen and Gauteng member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Makashule Gana, who is also chair of the DA’s MPL network.

The election of an interim leader and an interim federal chair, which was necessitated by Athol Trollip resignation, will take place before the DA is expected to have an early congress.

The party’s federal council, which is the highest decision making body between congresses, decided to opt for an early congress on the basis of recommendations by a review panel that was appointed in the wake of the 2019 general elections, in which the DA lost support for the first time.

Madikizela said he withdrew after a number of Western Cape leaders raised concerns with him.

He said the DA had just been given a fresh mandate in the province, and that his role in the province, as MEC of transport and public works, was critical in stimulating growth and growing the economy.

“They believe, rightfully so, that my attention will be divided with only few months in office,” he said.

He said keeping the province stable would ultimately stabilise the party nationally, and that they felt he needed to “stay the course to achieve that”.

He said it was critical for the DA to start building its structures, and rebuild the trust with voters in preparation for the 2021 local government elections without any interruption to the DA’s current leadership in the province.

“As a leader, you listen to counsel from your members, I could have ignored all this advice and forged ahead. But I thought long and hard and decided perhaps it would be best to pull out for now, but we will have an ongoing discussion to consider this position towards federal congress in May next year,” Madikizela said.

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