Makashule Gana. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA).

Durban - DA Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana said he is not pulling out of the race for the party's interim leader, which will be decided through a vote at the weekend.

The party’s federal council is expected to gather to vote on who between Gana and DA parliamentary leader and front-runner John Steenhuisen should be the party leader. 

The party’s Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela announced his withdrawal this week, saying he wanted to focus on building the party in his province, but said he would be available to contest during next year’s congress which will elect a permanent leader.  

The position was left vacant after the unceremonious resignation of Mmusi Maimane, who left the party altogether. 

During an interview with SAfm's Stephen Grootes on Wednesday morning, Gana said with his years of experience in the party, he was the one qualified to drive racial redress within the party. 

“If we don’t come up with a meaningful proposal to deal with the injustices of our past then our legitimacy as a true representative of all South Africans will be damaged. 

“I believe that with the qualities that one has, the experience that one has gained over the last 17 years that I have been a member of the DA I have gained enough experience to prepare me for this particular role,” Gana told the SAfm listers.

The issue of racial redress was believed to have forced Maimane and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba to resign last month after a change in policy direction was rejected by most members of the federal council, including its chairperson Helen Zille and Steenhuisen. 

Gana said the event that led to resignations had indicated that the DA needed “a direction”, which would focus it on issues of economic, social and environmental justice. 

He made it clear that he was disagreeing with Steenhuisen’s view that race should not be proxy for disadvantaged communities. He said the issue of race and redress had been in the party’s manifesto for this year’s general elections. 

“Because we see redress as a process towards achieving reconciliation in South Africa, and this has been our position even in 1995. 

“The DA manifesto recognised that you cannot remove race if you were to achieve meaningful redress in South Africa,” he said.

He said the party leadership should have one voice when it comes to race issues. 

He said he hoped that the policy conference and elective congress to take place early next year should settle the redress matter that seemed to have racially divided the party. 

However, he said if the policy conference decide against his beliefs he would still continue being a member of the party. 

Political Bureau