Ryan Coetzee MP – the Democratic Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer – for your files. Ryan Coetzee MP – the Democratic Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer – for your files.

Cape Town - Former DA spin doctor Ryan Coetzee is being proposed for a senior post in the Western Cape legislature.

And if the DA rumour mill is anything to go by, Coetzee, a close ally of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, could be heading back to the Mother City after next year’s general elections.

DA insiders confirmed the party leader has her heart set on having Coetzee back at her side, but this time he is apparently being offered a provincial cabinet post.

Coetzee, who lives in London and is the special adviser to British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said via Twitter: “Sorry… I may not do interviews.”

Zille would not be drawn on the speculation, saying only she would “work with the caucus that is delivered through the DA’s processes”, which were “rigorous, demanding and fair”.

Zille said: “I do not wish to speculate on the future of any individual.”

The premier added the DA had clear processes for people who wished to stand as candidates for the party.

“I am awaiting the outcome of those processes to establish who is on the list, and then after the election, I will know who is in the provincial parliament. I can only choose 10 MECs so if I want to split portfolios, I will have to combine others. Ten is the upper limit of MECs allowable,” she said.

Insiders confirmed there were more than 200 candidates vying for about 50 posts and that this was causing tension in the party. There is also a so-called “secret” list of candidates who had been interviewed but wanted to remain anonymous.

In the corridors of the legislature it is no secret that the issue of Coetzee returning to the DA has been discussed at a very high level, with opposition parties confirming this.

Coetzee is regarded as the mastermind behind the DA’s vastly improved election performances in recent years.

While he was a crucial part of former DA leader Tony Leon’s campaign, he was even more instrumental in coming up with a strategic plan that charted the successful path for Zille.

Coetzee worked as an MP and as chief adviser to Zille before he took up the position in the UK.

He may not be the most popular person in the DA, with some members querying the proposed move.

But a few claimed they were not in the least surprised. “The real question is who must be moved to make this happen,” a source said.

Meanwhile DA members, including some MECs, MPLs, MPs and councillors, have spent the past three weekends in interviews to be tested for their suitability to represent the party in national and provincial government. While conceding that the party’s electoral college had left many panicked, Western Cape DA leader Ivan Meyer said the nominations process had reached the final phase for prospective MPs and MPLs.

“Candidates are now appearing before the electoral college where an eight-member selection panel will do the interviews and they will even write exams,” Meyer said.

And, according to Meyer, he himself will be up for an intensive grilling next weekend.

“All the members of the parliament have to first go through the electoral college and the selection panel,” he said.


Cape Argus