First blow for Mbali Ntuli at DA congress as her proposal to create deputy leader position is rejected.
Contender for the position of DA leader Mbali Ntuli suffered her first major defeat at the party’s virtual conference on Saturday after her proposal that the party’s constitution be amended to create a deputy leader position was rejected.
Ntuli, during her presentation to congress, had argued that the party needed a deputy leader to help carry party duties because the DA was growing.
Her proposal had originally been rejected by the constitutional amendment committee, arguing that it would lead to factionalism and two centres of power, but she still had a chance to convince delegates.
However, her proposal failed after 61.3% of the congress delegates voted against it, a development that could be read as a rejection of her candidacy against leader John Steenhuisen.
“This will only help to deputise the leader who often has many calls and many different duties around the country. I think that it’s time that we also show a broader leadership team and elect people because they have different strengths.
“I think in the past we elected a person and when that person gets burnt out or when that person leaves or when that person does something that brings the party into disrepute, we all end up scrambling around like headless chickens without having an immediate person who can step into the role even if it’s for the interim,” said Ntuli.
She said she did not think that the committee’s reasons, that an addition of a deputy leader would immediately cause factions, held water because already the party has deputy leaders in some provinces.
The proposal, had it been accepted, would only have taken effect at the next congress of the party.
In her argument she was supported by KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango, who is known as her strong ally.
“I don’t agree that it will create a centre of power. In KZN we do have a deputy leader and whenever I am not available, he is able to assist the province and I also don’t believe we compete, in fact we complement each other,” said Mncwango.
However, DA MP Dean Macpherson, who is also Steenhuisen’s campaign manager, opposed the idea.
“It’s also a mistruth to say that if the leader leaves, then there is no way to move forward and that is specifically catered for in the constitution. I think the biggest issue is that it creates an expectation and that could be very dangerous for the party that there are people that would assume leadership positions,” said Macpherson.
Mpumalanga leader Jane Sithole also rejected the proposal, arguing that it will open room for factionalism.
The party also rejected another proposal which wanted the federal council chairperson position, currently held by Helen Zille, to be voted for by full congress.
Only members of the federal council can vote for a federal council chairperson, their deputies and the chairperson for finance.
Delegates argued that the move would make the DA “ANC lite”.