The newly-elected DA leader has expressed confidence in Helen Zille, who was re-elected as the chairperson of the federal council at the DA’s virtual federal elective congress at the weekend.
Zille’s landslide win came as she went up against Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty for the post.
Zille has been dubbed as the leading force among the conservatives who have captured the party and who wanted it to pursue classical liberalism, which included the recent removal of race from the party’s economic policies as well as its values and principles.
Her controversial views that not everything was bad with colonialism had seen her bash heads with black leaders within the party, and earned criticism from Steenhuisen while he was the party’s chief whip under former leader Mmusi Maimane, who left the DA when Zille was returned by the party’s federal council last year.
Earlier this year, Zille claimed there were more racist laws in the democratic SA than during apartheid, which generated another controversy.
Speaking to SAfm’s Stephen Grootes on Monday morning, Steenhuisen hailed Zille’s track record in governance and expressed excitement with her election.
“I think anybody who is serious about building a new majority in SA will be mad not to have someone like Zille sitting around the table, somebody who not only spoke about building a capable state. She did so in the Western Cape. She does not only talk about fighting unemployment. The Western Cape has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and she delivered clean, effective and accountable governance,” he said.
Steenhuisen insisted he did not agree with all Zille’s views.
He was, however, adamant that Zille’s controversial views would not turn away black voters which the party needed if it wanted to grow.
“Our highest number of black voters we received in any election was under Helen Zille’s leadership,” he said.
Speaking in an interview on 702 radio, Zille reiterated the party’s call for the protection of farmers. “There are 40 000 farmers left in SA and they feed us all 57 million people in SA and still have enough to export food to southern Africa, so they play an incredible role. If you look at the proportion of farmers and the number of farm murders a year, you will find that farmers are 50 times more likely to be murdered than the ordinary South African,” she said.