Cape Town - 140520 - Mmusi Maimane and his wife Natalie speak to the Cape Argus at their hotel before the swearing in of new members of parliament and the first sitting of the new parliament. Reporter: Murray Williams Picture: David Ritchie (083 652 4951)

Cape Town - Interviews are planned for DA parliamentarians next week as the party’s parliamentary leader, Mmusi Maimane, selects his shadow cabinet.

This emerged on Thursday when Maimane, who walked into the position with no competition, introduced what he called his “leadership team”: the similarly unopposed John Steenhuisen as chief whip, Anchen Dreyer as caucus chairwoman, and Mike Waters, the deputy chief whip who beat his predecessor, Sandy Kalyan, in on Thursday’s elections.

“We will not oppose for the sake of opposing,” pledged Maimane, who now leads the largest opposition party in Parliament.

“We’ll put together working alternatives and ensure Parliament is a testing ground for new ideas.”

The pressure would be on the government over economic growth and jobs, he said. “We centred our election campaign on job creation because unemployment is, without doubt, the single biggest challenge we face.”

The run-up to on Thursday’s elective caucus meeting was riven with tension after the shock announcement by the former leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, that she was swopping the parliamentary benches for Harvard.

There was a public spat over what were believed to be the real reasons she was leaving – and DA national leader Helen Zille wrote in SA Today that she repeatedly had to take responsibility and step into the parliamentary caucus to correct Mazibuko’s mistakes.

However, Maimane said on Thursday that the caucus would pull together: “The people in the caucus should not coalesce around an individual but a cause, because individuals come and go. The cause remains.”

On the call for Zille to resign as Western Cape premier to return to Parliament as leader, Maimane said it would be up to her to decide.

Echoing Zille’s writings in SA Today, he said the option for her to return to Parliament was only available in a year’s time when the National Assembly candidates list could be changed.

“Whether she will exercise that or not remains entirely her choice. The relationship between her and I, the caucus and the national leader is a successful one.” The entire caucus benefited from Zille’s experience, he said.

Cape Argus