Odds on new DA Parliament leader

Time of article published Oct 27, 2011

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Deon de Lange and Gaye Davis

EXPECTATIONS yesterday were that Lindiwe Mazibuko would comfortably defeat incumbent Athol Trollip for the position of DA parliamentary leader and replace him as leader of the opposition after the party’s caucus mid-term elections this morning, following four weeks of furious canvassing.

While the DA caucus is 83 members strong, one seat is vacant and another MP will not be present for the vote.

That means 80 DA and Independent Democrats MPs, as well as party leader Helen Zille, will gather at the Marks Building at Parliament to vote not only for a parliamentary leader but also other positions, including caucus chairperson and deputy, deputy chief whip, leader of the DA delegation in the National Council of Provinces and eight whip positions.

The chief whip is not elected, but appointed by whoever becomes parliamentary leader.

It appeared yesterday that Mazibuko could rely on the definite support of 39 MPs, while a further eight doubtfuls were understood to be leaning her way. Trollip was understood to have at least 23 votes in the bag and could also get votes from a further five MPs. The remaining six caucus members were playing their cards close to their chests.

One of these, advocate Hendrik Schmidt, heads the DA’s federal legal commission and will be in charge of any appeal process. DA MP George Boinamo is recovering from an illness and will not take part in today’s ballot.

Excluding undecided voters, it appeared that Mazibuko could rely on at least 47 votes – six more than the 41 needed to win – while Trollip had definite support from at least 28 caucus members.

The campaign has been unusual in that Mazibuko decided to make it a public one, while Trollip insisted it was an internal party matter. Both have made it clear there will be no bad blood between them if the other wins.

The voting will not take place along the cleavages of race or language. Both Trollip and Mazibuko have supporters who are black, or who speak Afrikaans.

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