South Africa

PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP RACE

DA Western Cape elects JP Smith as interim deputy leader

City of Cape Town veteran councillor JP Smith has been elected interim deputy leader of the DA in the Western Cape. (Photo: Gallo Images / Network24 / Jaco Marais)

The DA in the Western Cape now has two interim leaders to lead the party - Tertuis Simmers and JP Smith - who are tasked with the responsibility to ‘ensure that all structures in the party are geared towards spreading the message of our proven successes’.

City of Cape Town veteran councillor JP Smith has been elected interim deputy leader of the DA in the Western Cape. The election took place at a provincial council meeting held on Saturday, 7 May, at the City of Cape Town council chambers. 

Smith is a veteran party member, with more than 20 years of experience as a city councillor. Currently, he is the mayoral committee member for Safety and Security in the City of Cape Town. Smith is a well-known public figure in the City, but often engaged in public spats previously with former DA mayor Patricia de Lille and, in more recent times, Police Minister Bheki Cele

Smith won the leadership race over contenders Wendy Philander (DA Women’s Network provincial chair), Meagann Goedeman (Breede Valley ward councillor) and Antoinette Steyn (Breede Valley mayor). 

Read Daily Maverick’s preview of the elections here.

Tertuis Simmers (also an MEC in the provincial cabinet) is DA Western Cape acting interim leader. (Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim)

Provincial leaders are elected every three years, but the party had to elect interim leaders following several crises in the past year. Bonginkosi Madikizela was elected provincial leader in 2020, despite allegations of an assassination plot against contender Masizole Mnqasela hanging over the election. Madikizela resigned in 2021 following a qualifications scandal. In 2021, Madikizela’s deputy, Albert Fritz, was then elected as interim leader. But Fritz would resign as interim leader following allegations of sexual misconduct. Tertuis Simmers (also an MEC in the provincial cabinet) would then be announced as acting interim leader until a leader could be elected.

On Saturday, Simmers was elected as interim leader in an uncontested race.  

At the last elections in 2020, Smith had been one of the province’s vice-chairpersons, alongside Cape Town Grant Twigg and Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. 

A statement by the party, attributed to provincial chairperson Jaco Londt, said the new leadership had the responsibility to “ensure that all structures in the party are geared towards spreading the message of our proven successes, not only in our province but to communities in the rest of the country as well”. 

The party said its aim is to retain the Western Cape in the next national and provincial elections in 2024, as well as to continue to be the DA’s “flagship of good governance”. 

“We are confident that today brings a new beginning for the DA in the Western Cape and that our new leadership will take the party from strength to strength,” the party saud in its statement. DM

Update on Sunday 8 May, 2022: According to the DA, Smith received 55,8% of the vote, followed by Steyn at 36,1%, then Philander at 8,2%. Goedeman received 0% of the vote.

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