Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has been lobbied to challenge Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille for the provincial DA leadership, and neither is ruling out the possibility of a battle.
Opponents of De Lille want to see her toppled before the 2019 general election so that she cannot succeed Zille as premier.
Yesterday Zille confirmed the rumours which have been circulating in Cape Town for few weeks.
“I have been approached. I haven’t responded. There is a long time to go before the next provincial elective congress,” was all she was prepared to say.
De Lille said she was aware of the lobbying efforts, and was unperturbed by them.
“The DA is an open opportunity party and any member can contest any position. If Helen wants to contest, she is free to do so,” said De Lille.
The next Western Cape DA congress is scheduled to take place in 2018.
De Lille has led the DA to unprecedented success in the Western Cape local government elections.
She has grown the coloured support strongly and black support exponentially in addition to its almost blanket support among white voters.
But she has faced criticism for her robust leadership style and for the number of former ID members in leadership positions. Her supporters deny any charges of favouritism.
Several sources said that the two leaders of the province’s rural regions – Erik Marais (western region) and Jaco Londt (eastern region) – were lobbying against De Lille on Zille’s behalf.
Metro region leader Shaun August is known to be a staunch ally of De Lille.
De Lille was the founding leader of the Independent Democrats.
De Lille became the Western Cape MEC for social development in Zille’s provincial cabinet before becoming the DA’s successful mayoral candidate in 2011 and 2016.
She was elected Western Cape DA leader in 2014 by a margin of 70% over her challenger, Lennit Max.
In 2007 Zille was elected national DA leader and in 2009 she became Western Cape premier, being re-elected by an increased majority in 2014. Term limits mean she cannot be re-elected in 2019.
Zille stood down as DA leader last year, paving the way for Maimane to become the first black DA leader.