Former Western Cape premier and DA federal council chairperson candidate Helen Zille. The DA has gagged candidates who are currently contesting the powerful post of federal council chairperson position from publicly debating and competing. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archive.

Johannesburg - The DA has effectively gagged its leaders who are currently contesting the powerful post of federal council chairperson position from publicly debating and competing.

This comes as the party’s federal council sits this weekend to select the successor of James Selfe, who has occupied the post for almost two decades.

Gunning for the post is former party leader Helen Zille, federal chairperson Athol Trollip, deputy chairperson of the federal council Thomas Walters and deputy chief whip Mike Waters.

Zille, Trollip and Waters have been vocal about their interests in taking over after Selfe,

On Wednesday, DA presiding officer of federal council elections Desiree van der Walt said she had now blocked the candidates from publicly campaigning for the post as it was an internal party election.

“We don’t want people to go out and canvass voters and the public. We want people to run a campaign with the authorised delegates. We have seen all four of the candidates, except one (Walters) refusing to run his campaign through the media. This is unlike a congress where we elect a party leader,” Van der Walt said.

Van der Walt said she had made the ruling that the campaign by the candidates should be focused internally, among the 155 delegates who are expected to attend the crucial federal council meeting which starts on Saturday until Sunday.

 Helen Zille said her return into politics and pursuit of the post was aimed at ensuring that the DA got back on track as it had a leadership crisis.

Trollip however, took a swipe at Zille, who led the party from 2007 to 2015, saying there was a time to come and go and that Zille had had both.

Television channel eNCA had scheduled a live debate of the candidates for Wednesday, but Van der Walt said she had instructed the candidates to pull out after it came to her attention.

 “I wrote to each candidate requesting them to keep their campaigns because we have a code of conduct,” she said.

Political Bureau