Western Cape Premier Helen Zille Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Media
Cape Town - Political analysts have not ruled out Western Cape Premier Helen Zille taking over the helm as provincial party leader later this year.

The DA is set to elect a new leader for the province in November following Patricia de Lille’s recent resignation from the post.

The party’s deputy leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, has stepped in as an interim leader. However, analysts have predicted that he would not last in the role beyond November.

Analyst, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, said there was a possibility that Zille could run as a candidate for leader of the province and exert political influence on a future premier.

“I don’t see her retiring from politics. She may want to come back as the leader in the province with the aim of later becoming a premier, not necessarily in the province but an economic hub like Gauteng, where the DA want to put their best possible candidate,” Fikeni said.

Four candidates had shown interest by the close of nominations on February 15. They are: Madikizela, Lennit Max, councillor and metro regional chairperson, Shaun August and Arlene Adams.

The 120-member provincial council which will take place on February 25, will then elect an acting provincial leader. However, it is the provincial congress in November that will determine who the leader will be.

A source told Weekend Argus that after De Lille’s resignation, the race for the leadership had become “dirty” with attempts to “clear the ground” for the premier position. “That’s the seat of power, the ultimate control. Whoever stands for the leadership position has their sight on becoming premier,” the source said.

Although Madikizela is seen as having the backing of Zille, some people have dismissed the possibility of him becoming the new provincial leader and thereby a likely candidate for the premiership in 2019.

“He doesn’t have internal party support, and in a province with its own unique dynamics, unfortunately he will not be the right candidate to appeal to the coloured vote,” one source said.

Should he be elected though, he faces an “on- slaught” of image tarnishing, and his credibility being questioned from some members within the party to an extent that would almost force him to resign, said another source.

“That would create an impression that the party was in a crisis and the premier would step in to create stability,” the source said.

Fikeni said Madikizela would continue to be a senior leader of the party but would not be elected to the top position.

“The party is not ready to have an African leader in the Western Cape, given its political dynamics and the jockeying for the coloured vote - they are the majority and any political party wants that base,” Fikeni said.

Another political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi, said the selection of the future leader would have to be sensitive to the “complexion” of the province. Max was sacked by Zille from the provincial cabinet and was also involved in a sex scandal that affected his political standing.

Weekend Argus