Former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille, has emphasised that leadership attributes are far greater than the colour of a person’s skin, following a controversial opinion column calling on party leader Mmusi Maimane to step down.

This after the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) analyst, Hermann Pretorius, wrote an article last week calling on Maimane to step down and be replaced by Western Cape premier Alan Winde.

Pretorius added that Winde could possibly reintroduce the notion that race was irrelevant to whether someone could serve the country.

Zille has suspended her fellowship with the IRR following her decision to join the contest to lead the party’s Federal Council. She says the article was writen by Pretorius as an opinion piece.

“The bottom line is Hermann Pretorius, who is a young colleague at the IRR, was asked to write a column for the online newspaper. He did that in his own voice, with his own opinion and he is entitled to do. He did not consult with anybody, he certainly didn’t consult me. I did not agree with his wording. The core point he was trying to make was the race should not be the overriding determinant of leadership in the DA, and I do agree with that. The bottom line is that leadership attributes are far greater than the colour of a person’s skin. “

Zille says she will work to unite the DA should she be elected to lead the party’s Federal Council.

She announced her candidacy for the position last week – and will face off with former Nelson Mandela Metro Mayor, Athol Trollip, and Members of the National Assembly, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters. The election will take place towards the end of this month at the Federal Council meeting.

Zille says the party needs to unite before contesting in the 2021 municipal elections.

“The DA is becoming less and less united, and we were once a reasonably strongly united organisation. There are always tensions and risks with polarisation in political parties, but we were quite a strongly united organisation, all charging a course in the same direction, all agreeing on the vision and that appears to have dissipated, it appears to no longer be the case. The second thing is we are very unstable at the moment – so those were the major reasons,” says Zille.

 

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