The Democratic Alliance (DA) will hold its 5th Federal Congress on 24 – 25 November 2012 at the OR Tambo Conference Centre, Birchwood Hotel, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng. The Federal Congress is the party’s highest decision-making body and comprises of delegates who are ordinary members and public representatives from DA branches across the country. The Federal Congress is the only party structure that can elect party leadership and make amendments to the party’s Federal Constitution.
The party was previously known as the Democratic Party (DP). The party espouses liberal democracy and free market principles. The party’s forerunner was the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) whose veteran politician, Helen Suzman was its only representative in the white apartheid parliament for many years. Suzman upheld liberal policies in the apartheid-era legislature and spoke out against apartheid laws. In the 1980s the party increased its parliamentary seats to seven. Among the new MPs was Tony Leon, who became DP leader in 1996, introducing a more aggressive approach to opposition politics. In 2000, the DP joined forces with the New Nationalist Party (NNP) to form the Democratic Alliance (DA). But in late 2001 the NNP withdrew from the pact. In August 2004 the NNP’s national executive decided to disband the party and its public representatives fell under the ANC.
Helen Zille took over as party leader in May 2007 after Leon stepped down. She trounced the two other candidates by capturing a total of 786 votes, or 72% of the ballot. Atholl Trollip came in second with 228 votes (22%), and Joe Seremane third with 65 votes (6%). Zille was re-elected party leader unopposed in July 2010.
Speaking to the SABC News department on 2 November 202, party leader Helen Zille said the DA prided itself on having rigid measures in place to govern leadership elections and party membership. Commenting on how its leaders were elected, Zille added said it attached three requirements for its public representatives: fit for purpose; competencies; and the necessary skill sets. Called a Performance Development and Management System (PDMS), Zille affirmed the system was first introduced in 2006, implemented in 2009, and used in candidate selection in the 2011 Local Government Elections.
November 2012 elections
According to the DA, Federal Congress and Federal Council are tasked with filling seven leadership positions: leader of the party, chairperson and three deputy chairpersons. The Federal Council, which meets on 25 November, will be tasked with electing the Chairperson of Federal Council, the Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council, the Chairperson of the Federal Legal Commission, and the Chairperson of the Federal Finance Committee. Each of the elections will be conducted by secret ballot, and voting for the positions of Deputy Federal Chairperson will be done using the “single transferable voting system”. A total of 18 nominations were received for the seven positions available.
This is a breakdown of the different nominations and positions:
Party leader: Helen Zille (only nomination)
Federal Chairperson: Wilmont James (incumbent), and Masizole Mnqasela
Deputy Federal Chairperson (three positions):Anchen Dreyer (incumbent)Makashule GanaSandy KalyanDianne Kohler BarnardAnnelie LotrietMmusi MaimaneBonginkosi MadikizelaJoe McGluwaStevens Mokgalapa
Chairperson of Federal Council: James Selfe (incumbent)
Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council: John Steenhuisen, and Thomas Walters
Chairperson of the Federal Legal Commission: Hendrik Schmidt (incumbent)
Chairperson of the Federal Finance Committee: Dion George (incumbent), and Alf Lees.
Ronesh Dhawraj, SABC Research and Policy Analysis
– By ANALYSIS: Ronesh Dhawraj