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Controversial DA MP Masizole Mnqasela is expected to propose amendments to his party’s constitution which, if accepted, could see the merger of two powerful positions in the party: federal council chairman and chief executive officer.
The DA’s federal council will meet next month to thrash out the policy proposals for its congress, to be held on November 25 on the Soweto campus at the University of Johannesburg.
Mnqasela, who underwent disciplinary action a few months ago for his rude comments about party parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, has apparently proposed that the federal council chairman’s position be merged with that of DA CEO. The federal council position is technically more influential than party leader. It is relatively equivalent to the ANC’s secretary-general’s position. However, the incumbent is not elected by the congress, but by the federal council.
The CEO’s position – although the incumbent is appointed and not elected – is equally powerful. The CEO, according to a DA member, employs all staff members throughout the country.
”Why do you need a CEO? What for? The DA is a political party, not a listed company. The CEO has got too much power. It has to be an electable position. It cannot be given as a freebie,” said the DA member, who spoke to The Sunday Independent on condition of anonymity because of the DA’s stringent regulations on communication.
A second DA member, who also asked not to be identified, confirmed the proposals and went further to suggest that the party should create a deputy national leader’s position, to be deputy to Helen Zille.
Also, the DA in Gauteng has proposed that the party should consider abandoning its system of electing MPs in order to grant better representation for provinces where the DA does not enjoy majority support.
In its discussion document, which The Sunday Independent has seen, the party said the aim of sharing MPs nationally was to ensure DA public representatives served party constituencies well with the hope of winning more votes for the DA.
“The proposed changes to the nomination regulations through the introduction of a national list aims, in 2014, to re-allocate parliamentary seats from provinces with a relatively large DA vote – and thus proportionally more MPs (such as Gauteng and the Western Cape) – to provinces where the number of MPs is the lowest. These newly transferred MPs will then be able to alleviate the workload of existing MPs and MPLs, provide political leadership as constituency heads, and drive increased political activity on the ground that may translate into more votes in 2019,” the document read.
However, there was no proof that this would happen, according to the Gauteng proposal.
“There is no researched evidence of the existence of pools of DA-inclined voters waiting under-served in these under-resourced provinces,” the party’s Gauteng province said in the document.
“(The) current DA strategy, buttressed by deep and quality data research, requires the optimal use of limited party resources to those – usually urban – areas where the majority of potential existing DA-inclined voters reside, and which are not located generally in the under-resourced provinces,” the document said.
A Western Cape DA MP said the party's provincial council, which met on Saturday, overwhelmingly supported the proposed constitutional amendments on nominations regulations.
“We voted at the provincial council on this issue and we supported it with 58 votes against 13. It was overwhelming and I think this is significant,” the MP said, also on condition of anonymity.
James Selfe, federal council chairman, confirmed on Saturday that a proposal, emanating from Gauteng, calling for change in the nomination regulations system of the DA would be discussed at next month’s federal council meeting.
He said there could be other proposals, on the same issue, coming from other provinces.
Selfe also confirmed that another proposal, from a DA member in the Western Cape, was submitted to the DA’s constitutional review committee and this would be discussed at the congress, not at the September federal council meeting.
“The matter, likewise, will be discussed,” he said.
Mnqasela could not be reached for comment on Saturday.