With less than 24 hours before the deadline for the submission of names of those who want to be Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council, the party’s former leader Helen Zille has thrown her hat in the ring.

The chair of the Federal Council in the DA is the second most powerful position in the party after that of the Federal leader.

Athol Trollip and Tomas Walters have also shown interest in contesting for the position.

Zille, who recently suspended her fellowship with the Institute of Race Relations (IRR),  says she has decided to avail herself for the position because she wants to save the party from the current deepening tension.

Zille’s pronouncement comes after the DA has denied that there are factions within the party. This follows a newspaper report on an interview with DA leader Mmusi Maimane in which it is said he referred to two factions within the party.

The Business Day article said one faction wanted liberal roots in the DA while the other is calling for greater diversity. DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi says that this is not factionalism but rather contestation on the best way forward for the party.

“I think what is clearly visible is that there is robust contestation of ideas regarding the vision for the organisation going forward along certain political ideologies and views and that unfortunately gets characterised into factionalism. Factionalism refers to a grouping or separate groupings along different visions and ideas particularly an ideology with the pursuit of a different outcome in a political environment,” explained¬† Malatsi.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Thursday described as a “cheap political stunt” the Institute for Race Relations’ endorsement of an opinion piece regarding his leadership. The opinion piece argued that current Western Cape premier, Alan Winde should replace Mmusi Maimane as party leader.

The comments follow controversy over a car and house utilised by Maimane. The IRR endorsed the article.

The DA says it is looking into the allegations that former Steinhoff CEO, Markus Jooste sponsored Maimane’s car and that the house he declared as his own belonged to a Durban businessman.

Maimane maintained the IRR should not seek to involve itself in party politics.