DA ancillary bodies lobby for more power in party’s federal council
Members of the DA have made submissions for their constitution to be amended to allow a larger representation of those belonging to ancillary bodies – like the party’s women’s network and youth wing – to be part of the federal council.
Deputy chairperson of the federal council, James Masango, told Daily Maverick that for these bodies to be given additional representation, their leadership structures need to be uniform.
The party is holding a two-day congress at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on 1 and 2 April 2023, where constitutional amendments will be voted on.
The ancillary structures include DA Women’s Network, DA Youth, DA Student’s Organisation, the Association for DA Councillors, as well as DA Abroad.
Two seats each
These structures currently have one member representing them in the federal council. Masango explained that they now want two seats each, which is a problem because not all these bodies have both a leader and chairperson.
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The DA’s federal council is the party’s governing and policy-making body. It comprises of MPs, MPLs, councillors, members of the party who are not public representatives, staffers and members who have been co-opted.
“There is an amendment that they have suggested that they have a chair and leader, but the biggest issue is that some of these structures do not have both these positions because they were not formed in the same way. So, we need to start with a motion that will say that we should have a uniform leadership structure for all the bodies,” Masango said.
Amend age limit
Another amendment which has been suggested is that the DA youth extend its age limit to 33. This has been a frequent request at the party’s congresses, with the current cut-off for members at 30.
Other submissions which have been made, according to DA constitutional amendments chair Kevin Mileham, is a call for the leader to have an immediate deputy.
While this could help grow the party’s internal capacity, Mileham argues that there could be a downside to this suggestion.
“While we are a growing party and we need more feet on the ground, the counter-argument is that we do not want a top-heavy party. We also do not want any assumptions that the deputy is next in line to be the leader,” Mileham explained.
Mileham and his team not only collated the submissions coming from members, they have also set out recommendations for each suggestion brought forward. However, the final say will lie with delegates who will vote for or against these proposals.
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He mentioned that the party had been inundated with submissions regarding changes that should be made to its Constitution.
“In the previous conference, we had 48 constitutional amendments. And this year we had 101, which later dropped to around 89 submissions,” he said.
Submissions for amendments were initially made on 24 October and 18 November 2022, after which the committee reviewed and refined suggestions made by members. They were then published and members were given another opportunity to make comments.
In March 2023, the party held a webinar where the amendments were debated. The final call on suggested changes to the party’s constitution will be made through a vote by about 2,000 delegates attending the congress over the 1-2 April weekend. DM