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DA moves to quash voting system jitters after leadership contender Mpho Phalatse stirs ‘trust’ fears

DA moves to quash voting system jitters after leadership contender Mpho Phalatse stirs ‘trust’ fears
Mpho Phalatse. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle) | DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas).

The party has assured that the voting process at its national congress will be seamless and fair, despite doubts expressed by delegates and raised by federal leader candidate Mpho Phalatse.

The DA’s national congress chief presiding officer, Greg Krumbock, poured cold water on concerns about the integrity of the electronic voting system the party will be using over the weekend. 

It first used the OpaVote system at its 2020 congress, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Krumbock told the media at Joburg’s Gallagher Convention Centre on Friday ahead of the party’s two-day congress that this system “confers a number of advantages”. 

“First of all, it is fast. We have used it in a number of our congresses. We believe it is a proven system which the DA has used for a number of years. In all those years we have never even once had a query about the integrity of the system.” 

Mpho Phalatse is up against John Steehuisen to be elected leader of the official opposition. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

Krumbock’s assurances come after a video emerged of DA leader contender Mpho Phalatse supposedly addressing questions from conference delegates. 

In the video, responding to a query about OpaVote, she explains that more needs to be done to educate party members about how the system works. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mpho Phalatse vs John Steenhuisen – who will win?

“The Democratic Alliance used to use a manual voting system and during Covid-19 electronic voting systems were used. I have been speaking to delegates ahead of the congress and many have expressed fears and I do think that the party has not done enough to allay fears that the system is credible. A lot needs to be done to win the trust and confidence of voting delegates, that they are able to trust the system. With any new system there needs to be a change management plan,” she said. 

Phalatse is up against John Steehuisen to be elected leader of the official opposition. 

Helen Zille and Dion George are uncontested for the position of federal council chair and federal finance chairperson respectively. 

This comes after Lungile Phenyane, who was initially vying for all six positions, withdrew from running against Steenhuisen, Zille and George.

The most contested position is deputy federal chairperson, which allows for three members to be elected. 

Anton Bredell and Refiloe Nt’sekhe want to be re-elected but have competition from Jean-Pierre (JP) Smith, Phenyane, Natasha Mazzone, Nqaba Bhanga, Shehana Kajee and Solly Malatsi.

For the deputy chairpersons of the Federal Council, the candidates are Annelie Lotriet, Ashor Sarupen, James Masango, Phenyane, Segope Sathekge, Thomas Walters and Tyrone Gray.

Ivan Meyer, Phenyane and Qhawekazi Mbatha are all vying to be federal chairperson. 

The race is on

Krumbock says nearly 2,000 delegates from all parts of the country will descend on the Gallagher Convention Centre to elect the party’s new federal leadership. 

“We are a truly inclusive party, with 45% of our delegates and activists being non-public representatives coming from our branches. The Congress is important for South Africa because the leaders elected may very well be the leaders who will reshape the national government as the ANC’s support again drops below 50% in 2024,” he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: DA leaders back Steenhuisen ahead of April federal congress, but Phalatse confident of winning leadership race

“The size of the event speaks to the tremendous growth of the DA over the years. The party has exponentially grown, since 2015 where we had just over 1,200 delegates. The nearly 2,000 delegates to congress are made up of branch activists, councillors, MPLs and MPs from across the country. Each province will be sending a sizeable delegation depending on their proportional support and branch formation in new territories for the DA,” he said.

John Steenhuisen

DA leader John Steenhuisen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The party was expected to discuss mechanisms for building the economy and creating jobs and for urban and rural safety. It would also address the restoration of Parliament.

“Over the next couple of days, the DA will discuss and vote on 43 resolutions, seeking to drive the DA’s policy agenda and give practical expression to our values of ‘Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity’. The resolutions presented will build on, and extend, the DA’s policy offer for creating an inclusive society. The resolutions will speak to key areas of exclusion with a focus on how the DA will address them as a party of national government,” Krumbock said. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • 1957.tonycole says:

    Sadly Mpho is a lightweight. She did not make an impact in Johannesburg in her short tenure. Her game plan is obvious. She contests on gender and race. Loses. Leaves the DA in a huff. Joins her husband in ActionSA. A great pity as she has potential, but seems to be overly ambitious, or has had very bad advice.

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