DA leader is premier candidate

Time of article published Mar 1, 2009

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Democratic Alliance leader and Cape Town mayor Helen Zille announced on Sunday that she will be her party's candidate for premier of the Western Cape in the upcoming elections.

"After considerable discussion with the party leadership I have agreed to be nominated as the Democratic Alliance's premier candidate for the Western Cape," she told a press briefing in Cape Town.

Zille said the DA wanted to wrest control of the province from the African National Congress on April 22 and turn it into the next showcase of DA governance.

She said that if the party could run both Cape Town and the Western Cape, voters across South Africa would realise that service delivery is better in regions where the DA is in power.

If was therefore strategically more important that she win control of the province than lead the opposition in Parliament, she added

"It is a project of national significance. We want to run the city and the province in co-operative governance and demonstrate what it possible under those circumstances," she said, adding that as mayor she was frustrated by stone-walling on the part of the ANC powers in the province.

Zille said she was confident that the DA would emerge as the biggest party in the Western Cape, but conceded that it might have to enter into a coalition with other parties.

"In the current situation where we are now we are looking set to win the province, but seven weeks is a long time and anything can happen.

"Wherever we don't win outright we will certainly look at coalitions."

While the African National Congress has yet to announce its candidate for premier in the hotly contested province, Allan Boesak confirmed on Friday that he will run for the Congress of the People after earlier turning down the nomination.

Zille said she was unfazed by the cleric, who served jail time for fraud and theft but was later pardoned by former president Thabo Mbeki, and believed his dithering had damaged the fledgling party.

"I feel quite sorry for Allan Boesak and for COPE in the Western Cape because they've had such a bad start. I'm quite relaxed."

She said the DA has been a given a boost by battles within the ANC.

"We are being enormously helped by the internal unravelling of the ANC and this is happening faster than people think."

Zille said smaller parties should realise that their aim is to take support away from the ANC, and not simply redistribute opposition votes between themselves.

"Our role is not to juggle votes between the opposition because that is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." - Sapa

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