DA to change strategy as Leon steps down

By Time of article published May 4, 2007

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By Moshoeshoe Monare

The Democratic Alliance is likely to change its shape and political attitude at this weekend's crucial congress, which starts on Saturday.

The federal congress is crucial because it will be the first time in more than 12 years that the ship will be sailing under a new captain, after Tony Leon announced his retirement as leader of the official opposition last year.

He will officially step down at this congress, being held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

The candidates to succeed Leon have already indicated a slight difference in tactics and strategy in reshaping the DA's future role in South African politics.

Depending on who takes over from Leon between Cape Town mayor Helen Zille, federal chairperson Joe Seremane and Eastern Cape chairperson Athol Trollip, the party could shift its traction in the tough opposition terrain and restructure itself.

The restructuring also featured in its proposed resolutions in which the organisation suggests the appointment of "a subcommittee to investigate an amendment to the federal constitution in order to create the office of deputy leader, aimed at assisting the leader where appropriate".

Zille has made it clear that, if elected to succeed Leon, she would want to cling on to the jobs of both leader of the DA and mayor of Cape Town.

However, all these issues will depend on the 1 145 delegates who will debate and shape the future of the party at the congress.

"Congress sees the conclusion of the national 'leadership forum' in which all the DA leadership candidates participated, when the delegates elect a new DA federal leader on Sunday morning.

"The agenda furthermore also includes discussions and voting on 30 resolutions, voting on constitutional amendments to the DA federal constitution and a fringe programme which will run simultaneous to the normal congress schedule," the party said.

The discussions on the resolutions will include the DA's favourite subjects - crime, corruption and HIV and Aids.

There is a call on minister of safety and security Charles Nqakula to release crime statistics each quarter.

The DA will also discuss a resolution that calls on the government to deploy members of the SAPS to commando-style farm protection units.

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