THE BATON IS PASSED ON
In the same way as an experienced, well trained and successful relay team passes on the baton during a relay race so too did Helen Zille pass on the baton of leadership to a new leader Mmusi Maimane.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this historic congress, the first federal of the Party that I have missed. However, not only did I follow the run up to congress as well as the congress itself through both the formal and social media but those delegates who did attend have confirmed that the congress was an exemplary example of good management and democracy.
Right from the time that Helen Zille announced her decision not to seek re-election all the candidates gave an undertaking to run an open and clean campaign. This they did, in fact the only unsavoury incident was an anonymous E-Mail that was circulated accusing certain members of sexual impropriety. No proof was offered and no one claimed responsibility for the incident, all the candidates and most of the media ignored it and if faded into oblivion.
A total of 21 nominations were received for the seven positions to be elected. According to the DA constitution any member of the party in good standing is allowed to be nominated, and nominations are in a member’s individual capacity and not on behalf of any branch or structure of the party.
As one would expect in an election campaigning was robust, especially between Dr Wilmot James MP and Mmusi Maimane MP the candidates for the position of leader. Candidates travelled the length and breadth of the country to visit party formations, posters and pamphlets were distributed, T-Shirts printed and social media used to the full. Even an unscripted TV debate was held between the two main leadership candidates – a first in South Africa. At the congress itself candidates were allowed stalls for delegates to visit and ask questions.
Not only did the congress start on time but it ran on time, an achievement of note these days in South Africa, but a total of 1436 delegates numerous observers and VIP’s were registered and nobody challenged the credentials of any delegates.
Furthermore the campaign clean and fair as were the elections. The campaign and voting are run according to party rules which provides for a single transferable vote where every voter has to rank each candidate for each position in order of preference. Over ten thousand votes were cast and counted without dispute. All candidates and their agents signed a declaration that the election was free and fair. The party’s external auditors handed over a certificate that the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner.
Compare this to not only the ANC but also other political parties where chairs are broken, punches pulled and even knives drawn. If the accreditation of delegates is not challenged the results of the election become subject to litigation which prevents the party from doing what it is elected to do – represent the voters.
The only litigation arising about the congress was that the DA challenged the SABC in the Gauteng High Court when they reneged on their commitment to cover sections of the congress on one of their ‘free to air channels’ i.e. TV 1; 2, or 3. The DA won the case with costs and the SABC duly broadcast the opening ceremony as well as the announcement of the election results.
This seamless running of the congress and election should come as no surprise, it is all part of the DA’s culture. If you look at those places where the DA governs, the Western Cape Province and twenty eight municipalities there is the same commitment to democracy and accountable government.
Not only was the congress well run but it mirrored South Africa once again proving that the DA is the most non racial party in South Africa with all delegates elected, not appointed, by the structures that they represent and the people elected to office are truly elected on merit and not for reasons of race, religion or gender.
In my opinion the two major decisions made at the conference viz the election of Mmusi Maimane as well as the adoption of a Value Charter will ensure that the DA continues to grow. Both of these topics I will discuss in more detail in future editions of my Political Perceptions.
For those who do not know Mmusi and are not sure if he can lead our country let me give you a brief biography of him. He is 34 years of age, born in Dobsonville, Soweto on 6 June 1980, married to Natalie and they have two children. Mmusi has a degree in psychology and two master’s degrees – one in public administration and the other in theology. He speaks six languages and his name in Setswana means Leader.
After this congress the DA blue wave has the potential to become a blue tsunami.
Until next week,
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.