Battered Western Cape DA to elect interim deputy leader as Patriotic Alliance threatens to quit coalition
Next weekend, the Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape will elect a new interim deputy leader after a rough period for the party — from the resignation of Bonginkosi Madikizela to the losses experienced during the 2021 municipal elections and then the firing of another leader, Albert Fritz.
The voting for a new interim deputy leader will take place on Saturday 7 May during a provincial council meeting. The meeting will be held at the City of Cape Town council chambers, the party’s provincial chairperson Jaco Londt confirmed this week.
The party needs to elect an interim deputy leader for the province as it no longer has one.
At the last provincial congress in November 2020, Bonginkosi Madikizela was elected as provincial leader, with Albert Fritz as deputy. When Madikizela resigned as party leader and MEC in the provincial government following a qualifications scandal in April 2021, Fritz took over his political position on an interim basis. DA East region chair Tertuis Simmers (also an MEC in the provincial cabinet) was elected as deputy leader.
By January 2022, Fritz would resign as interim leader after being suspended as Community Safety MEC over allegations of sexual misconduct. Simmers then acted as interim leader. Simmers confirmed on 17 April that he would be elected uncontested at the provincial council meeting.
Who are the candidates for deputy leader?
With the position of leader not being contested, the focus shifts to the race for interim deputy leader. Londt confirmed to Daily Maverick that Meagann Goedeman, Wendy Philander, Antoinette Steyn and JP Smith have been nominated for the position.
But who are the candidates?
Goedeman is a ward councillor in the Breede Valley municipality. Wendy Philander is a member of the provincial legislature and current DA Women’s Network (Dawn) Western Cape provincial chairperson. In 2020, she contested for provincial leader but lost to Madikizela. City Press reported at the time, that she received the second-highest number of votes at 255 after Madikizela (444) followed by provincial legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela (210). When a new leader had been elected following Madikizela’s departure, Philander again lost to Fritz.
Another candidate who failed to make the cut for leadership previously is Breede Valley municipality mayor Steyn. In 2021, she stood against Simmers for the position of deputy leader but was unsuccessful.
DA Western Cape vice provincial chairperson Smith is no stranger to the DA. A councillor in the City of Cape Town for over 20 years, Smith has been at the forefront of the party in the city. In 2021, Smith was caught up in allegations that he had allegedly misrepresented his CV by stating that he had an Honours degree in English, but in reality, he did not complete his studies. These reports emerged after Madikizela’s own qualifications scandal, with questions being raised over unfair treatment of Madikizela compared to Smith.
The interim leader and his deputy will remain in their positions until the DA goes to congress again in 2023.
At the provincial council meeting, aside from the voting of the deputy leader, the party’s representatives will hear feedback from its youth structures and student organisation as well as feedback from the latest by-election in Ward 2, Witzenberg, upcoming by-elections and financial reports. Londt confirmed to that delegates will also hear from their guest speaker Liubov Abravitova, Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa and Helen Zille, the DA’s Federal Council Chairperson on the state of coalitions.
PA threatens to pull out of elections
During the 2021 municipal elections, the DA received 54.26% of the votes in the province — down from 63.33% in 2016 — and won 405 council seats across the province’s 25 municipalities and five district municipalities.
The party has had to form coalitions with other political parties in order to govern municipalities such as Knysna, Bitou and Breede Valley. Currently, the party is in coalitions ranging from the Freedom Front Plus to Good. In recent weeks, the party’s coalition with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni has filtered down to the Western Cape.
The PA has a mayoral committee member in the DA-led Knysna municipality and the two parties work together in the Matzikama municipality. Over the past two weeks, the DA, through Simmers, labelled the election of PA leader Gayton McKenzie as mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality earlier in April as “political thuggery”, according to News24.
Now the PA has threatened to pull itself out from the DA-PA coalition in the province. In a statement published on his media site Africa News Global, PA deputy president Kenny Kunene said “accordingly, we shall be withdrawing from the two Western Cape coalitions we are currently involved in with the DA and we shall not entertain further proposals from the likes of Tertius Simmers and whatever he thinks he’s trying to achieve for the DA in the Western Cape”. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.