Helen Zille's announcement that she will come out of retirement to stand for the position of DA federal chair has been quite telling. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency.
Occasionally on Quora, a website in which questions are asked, answered and edited, a question pops up: “Why is Africa so poor?”

The answer can be framed in many ways, but “poor leadership” will feature most prominently.

Leaders who refuse to pass the mantle is a problem that is perhaps most acute in Africa, and explains why the continent remains under-developed despite being resource-rich, while its youth flee their countries to escape poverty and persecution.

While former DA leader and ­Western Cape premier Helen Zille would probably loathe the comparison, her recent actions show that she’s no different from Africa’s ageing dictators, who simply refuse to step away from the limelight.

Her announcement last week that she will come out of retirement to stand for the position of DA federal chair at the party’s upcoming federal council meeting, has been quite telling.

Zille’s move came as incumbent leader Mmusi Maimane was under pressure to quit over reports that he was renting a home in Cape Town, which he at first claimed he owned, and that he was driving a vehicle owned by the disgraced former Steinhoff company chief executive, Markus Jooste.

Even with all that drama swirling around him over what seemed like a deliberate campaign to undermine his leadership, the DA has seemingly split into two camps: one backed by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), and one which wants to drive diversity in the party.

It should be noted that Zille was most recently a research fellow at the IRR, which has become a proponent of what could be considered right-wing views on the economy and issues like affirmative action, similar to the conservative American think tank The Heritage Foundation.

Zille says she hopes to stabilise the DA, unify the party and “help to get it back on track”, as if Maimane has been an absent leader.

Make no mistake, should Zille be elected, frustrating Maimane would be one of her preoccupations until he eventually quits.

Despite his many faults, Maimane quitting the DA leadership will hand the party back to the conservatives, and, ultimately, lead to its demise.