DA CONGRESS 2023
Steenhuisen declares Julius Malema and the EFF ‘political enemy number one’ after being re-elected
Not many changes in the DA’s leadership as John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille remain at the helm.
About 2,000 DA delegates voted for new leadership during the party’s national congress on Sunday morning using the OpaVote system.
John Steenhuisen garnered 83% of the votes, to beat his opponent, former Johannesburg executive mayor Mpho Phalatse who only obtained 17%.
It was smooth sailing for Helen Zille who was uncontested for the position of federal council chair. This means that Zille will yet again be “entrusted with and responsible for the organisation and administration of the party, and for developing and maintaining a high degree of efficiency in the party”.
Ivan Meyer was re-elected as the party’s federal chairperson. Zille’s deputies are Ashor Sarupen, Thomas Walters and Annelie Lotriet. The party’s three deputy federal chairpersons are Solly Malatsi, JP Smith and Anton Bredell.
Following his election, Steenhuisen made an acceptance speech in which he took a clear stance on how the DA will be handling coalitions in the future.
He maintained that the DA would not be working with the EFF under any circumstances, adding that the Red Berets are the enemy.
“Today, I publicly declare Julius Malema’s EFF to be political enemy number one of the Democratic Alliance. I commit the DA to fight back against the EFF at every turn, with the ultimate aim of defeating the doomsday coalition that could seal South Africa’s fate next year.
“This is no longer about politics. It is about the survival of democracy, and the survival of South Africa,” Steenhuisen said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: In her final leadership push, Phalatse takes a swipe at Steenhuisen, invoking comparisons with Zuma
Steenhuisen believes it is a realistic prospect that the ANC will drop below 50% in next year’s national election, which allows the DA to play a part in ensuring that they do not govern.
He spoke strongly against the possibility of an ANC-EFF marriage, which he emphasised would only be to the detriment of the country.
“Given the fact that the ANC now officially co-governs with the EFF in parts of Gauteng, we need to start taking the threat of these parties ganging up to destroy our country in 2024 very, very seriously.
“That is why, during the remaining months before next year’s election, the DA will make it our number one priority — and do absolutely everything in our power — to prevent an ANC-EFF doomsday coalition from taking power,” said Steenhuisen.
Read more in Daily Maverick: DA again votes against having a deputy leader (again)
This comes as internal party polling has indicated that the party has gained stability since cutting ties with the EFF. The party’s relationship with the Red Berets collapsed after Herman Mashaba’s departure from the DA in 2019.
The breakdown in the parties’ relationship ended the DA’s rule in Johannesburg, a big blow for the official opposition. After that, the DA vowed never to work with the EFF again.
Despite the relationship between the parties ending on a sour note, the EFF continued trying to keep the ANC out of power and voted with the DA in most municipalities in 2021.
JUST IN| John Steenhuisen has been re-elected as the leader of the Democratic Alliance. pic.twitter.com/HtLt1rlpbV
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) April 2, 2023
However, the latest coalition talks between the EFF and the governing party have facilitated a change — an agreement that could dethrone the DA in the councils where it, together with other smaller parties, has been able to have the majority of seats.
This move has given the EFF the opportunity to have its members be mayoral committee members and speakers — and it has left the ANC at the mercy of the Red Berets. DM