Helen Zille downplays tension with Maimane: ‘I will certainly support him’

Helen Zille. Image credit: Facebook/Helen Zille

Helen Zille has moved to downplay perceived tension between her and Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane.

In an interview with eNCA on Monday morning, she said if she’s elected DA’s Federal Council chairperson, she won’t have a problem working with any leader, “particularly Mmusi.”

“I will certainly support him in the position of [party] leader. I support any duly constitutionally elected position in the party,” she said.

‘Difficult relationship’

In an interview with Rapport over the weekend, Maimane acknowledged having a “difficult” relationship with Zille in the past.

Nevertheless, he added, “But, for us, the focus is on the future. Let the delegates decide on the future of the DA.”

Zille’s decision to contest for the Federal Council chairperson position reportedly took Maimane’s supporters by surprise.

They are said to prefer the party’s Federal Chairperson Athol Trollip for the senior position.

DA’s KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango, who is a Maimane supporter, took a dim view of Zille’s return in an interview with City Press.

“It is as if she is convinced that the party cannot succeed without her,” he said.

DA ‘less united’

However, Zille, who was DA leader until 2015 when Maimane succeeded her, seems to believe that the party is headed in the wrong direction under Maimane’s leadership.

“The DA is becoming less and less united, and we were once a reasonably strongly united organisation… and that appears to have dissipated; it appears to no longer be the case,” she explained.

The election of Federal Council Chairperson is scheduled to take place on 18 October. Zille will battle it out with Thomas Walters, Mike Waters and Athol Trollip.

Walters currently serves as one of the two Deputy Chairpersons of the Federal Council along with Natasha Mazzone. Waters is one of DA’s three Deputy Federal Chairpersons.

The long-serving Federal Council chairperson, James Selfe, is set to retire.

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