Former DA leader Helen Zille. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Makashule Gana has stated that the contest for the position of interim leader of the DA was about the future of the party.

Gana is contesting for the position, left vacant by Mmusi Maimane more than a week ago, with interim parliamentary leader John Steenhuizen, and Western Cape provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela also in the running as possible successors.

Speaking to Independent Media, Gana said he had not decided whether he would also contest for the leadeship position at the federal congress in April next year.

“I haven’t thought that far. The important thing is to contest now and stabilise the party,” he said, adding that this would rebuild the trust among members.

However, the contest for the interim leader was about the future of the DA.

“This contest is about the future of the party and the future challenges of the country.”

He said he had received support since he announced his decision to enter the race this week.

The support came not only from members who were going to vote at the special federal council in the next three weeks, but also public representatives of the party.

The DA needed new thinking, said Gana, adding that he and others were on a mission to stay in the party.

“There are a number of people, who I have spoken to who were thinking of giving up, but are now staying. We need to roll up our sleeves.”

He said every member of the DA needed to work to rebuild the party.

The resignation of Maimane was followed by that of former federal chairperson Athol Trollip.

Outgoing Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, also quit and will leave at the end of the month.

Gana said he had deep respect for both Steenhuisen and Madikizela as he had worked with them in the past.

Gana served as an MP for a few years before he was moved to the Gauteng legislature.

Steenhuisen, who had served as party chief whip during Maimane’s tenure, was elected unopposed as interim parliamentary leader.

He has since appointed senior MP Natasha Mazzone as chief whip. Mazzone had served in the communications and public enterprises portfolio committees since she arrived in Parliament a decade ago.

The DA lost support during the polls in May, which cost Maimane his job.

The party’s electoral support dipped from 22.23% to 20.77%.

Maimane commissioned a report by a panel to review the performance of the DA in the elections and that report was said to have cost Maimane his job.

Some leaders in the party maintain that he should not have resigned. Some provincial leaders also backed Maimane ahead of that crucial federal council meeting in Joburg where he resigned.

It was at this meeting that the report was discussed.

Maimane has remained silent on his future since he resigned from his position two weeks ago.

Politics Bureau