DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the election of a new federal council chairperson "presents an opportunity for renewal and change for the DA". Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

Johannesburg - Former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has been elected as the DA’s federal council (FedCo) chairperson at the party's council meeting in Johannesburg this weekend.

In a statement after the two-day sitting of the council on Sunday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the election of a new federal council chairperson "presents an opportunity for renewal and change for the DA".

"The position was previously occupied by James Selfe, who chaired FedCo for just under 20 years with the utmost distinction. I want to again thank James for his leadership, support, and friendship. James is an unsung hero of South Africa’s democratic project and his valiant work has positively shaped our country.

"I want to congratulate Helen Zille on her election as chairperson of federal council, and I look forward to the new energy, ideas, and vigour that Helen will bring to the leadership collective of the party. Helen has served the party in various positions over the past years, and brings experience and political clout second to none," Maimane said.

He also called on all the candidates and members of the party to unite behind the new FedCo chairperson. "The election and campaigns are over, and now is the time to unite behind our common purpose," he said.

The FedCo also considered the organisational review panel’s report, and following extensive deliberation, adopted various resolutions, including:

- That a federal congress be convened as soon as constitutionally possible, bearing in mind the administrative processes which should be concluded as quickly as possible to give effect to recommendations of the review process;

- That a policy review committee be established, convened by the newly elected FedCo chairperson, to undertake a comprehensive policy review of the party’s positions on a number of key matters, most particularly on economic justice and jobs. The process followed by the policy review committee should involve consultation with party structures and should be discussed by provincial councils, which should convene a policy conference before the federal congress;

- That the federal executive determine the job description and key result areas for a new chief executive officer. The federal executive should also appoint an interviewing panel and invite applications as soon as possible;

- That in preparation for the early federal congress, a constitutional review committee be established by the federal executive to give effect to the recommendations by the review process and be charged with producing appropriate amendments to the party’s constitution. Proposed amendments should be work shopped through the structures of the party. The constitutional review committee should, among others, consider term limits for the election of office-bearers; and

- That a proper assessment of the party’s role in governments and communication thereon by DA governments be undertaken by the governance unit urgently.

"We come out of this weekend’s federal council committed to building One South Africa for All - accelerating our work in parliament as the official opposition to offer alternatives to the governing party and hold the national executive accountable. We further made a commitment to strengthen our governments in their work of running clean, capable governments that deliver services to all. It is now time to roll up our sleeves and work with South Africans from all walks of life towards building a prosperous South Africa for all," Maimane said.

African News Agency (ANA)