The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be having its Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth this weekend. It is held every three years to choose new leaders for the party.
The DA leader in the Eastern Cape, Athol Trollip will be contesting for this position. Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James are also contesting. James was the party’s federal chairperson, but made himself unavailable for re-election.
Trollip always harboured aspirations to be a leader ever since he was a young boy, growing up on the family farm near Bedford, Eastern Cape. Now he is planning to climb another step as a leader. He wants to be the Federal chairperson of the DA
The federal council is nothing new to him, as he served on it as the Eastern Cape provincial leader for 13 years. He is also the party’s mayoral candidate for the Nelson Mandela Metro for next year’s local elections.
“I can’t do anything about the colour of my skin, and am quite comfortable in it, and the party.”
But how would this veteran politician of 20 years, juggle his political hats, should he win?
“When I become mayor I will relinquish the position as provincial leader. I believe I will be the mayor and the fed chair. Helen Zille managed to be the premier and leader, it inspired me and I believe I can do two jobs. To be the Federal chair will not be more different, just more responsibilities.”
Trollip is supporting Maimane, who is gunning for the position of party leader. He believes that Maimane represents non-racialism.
Trollip says his experience can complement Maimane’s leadership and that will grow the party in even more non-traditional areas.
“Together we can win the Nelson Mandela Metro. In this province we showed that we can grow in an ANC stronghold. This was the most powerful ANC province and now we are aiming to win 5 municipalities in the province from the ANC. We are also the official opposition in the province.”
The new DA leader will herald a new era for the DA as both men vying for the position are black. For Trollip the colour of one’s skin is not an issue and neither is leadership defined by colour. “I can’t do anything about the colour of my skin, and am quite comfortable in it, and the party. It is hard work in the party. I have the knowledge and can help the new leader. I have the institutional knowledge and memory needed.” Taking control of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro will be the first prize for the DA. The party has plans to boost tourism and get the integrated public transport system back on track.
Trollip also wants to give dignity to all the residents if he becomes mayor. “We have a constituency. Njoli it’s called a township. Should also be a suburb, litter must also be removed more often. People must be treated with dignity.”
Trollip is fluent in three languages, a blessing from being raised on an Eastern Cape farm. Race is of no concern to him. Being multi lingual is to his benefit.
“I don’t believe in racism, grew up on the back of a black mom, could speak Xhosa before English.”
He attended the Woodridge Private School near Port Elizabeth, and studied agricultural management at the University of Natal.
After spending several years abroad, he was the fifth generation farming on the family farm, before becoming a politician.
His political career impacted on his personal life forcing his family to make several sacrifices because it is such a consuming
occupation. But since he can remember, being a leader was in blood.
“I was a leader at school, at varsity, army, I want to make a difference.”
The position for Federal chairperson is being contested by Athol Trollip, Makashule Gana and Masizole Mnqasela.