The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape faces some serious questions in the lead-up to its March elective congress when party leader Athol Trollip steps down.
The party, which has been enjoying positive growth in numbers and representation in provincial councils, will have to carefully choose who takes it beyond 2019.
Those likely to contest the party’s top seat in the province are chairwoman Veliswa Mvenya and Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral committee members Nqaba Bhanga and Andrew Whitfield.
National committee member of the land affairs portfolio Annette Steyn was seen as a potential candidate by some, but Steyn told the Daily Dispatch she would not contest the position.
Whitfield yesterday said he was unable to comment on whether he would seek any of the offices at the congress.
The 33-year-old Whitfield has held a number of leadership positions throughout his political career including youth leader, councillor, Eastern Cape deputy chairman and DA spokesman in Nelson Mandela Bay.
If Butterworth-based Mvenya is successful, she would become the first woman to lead the province since the party was formed in 1991.
Mvenya told the Dispatch she had been approached by party members to stand for the leadership position.
However, she would wait for the nominations.
“There is a process that is followed within the party. I will await that process. There is a huge difference between being approached by party members and actually being nominated to be elected.”
Mvenya has been a DA councillor from 2000 to 2004 and is seen to have played a role in the growth the party has enjoyed, particularly east of the Kei river.
Bhanga, the recently appointed Nelson Mandela Bay human settlements political head, is rumoured to be in the running for the provincial top seat but he could not be reached for comment at the time of writing yesterday.
Eastern Cape-born Steyn, who is also a former provincial chairwoman, confirmed she had been asked to stand but would not do so.
Political analyst Mcebisi Mdletye said the provincial DA would have to choose its leadership wisely.
“It’s important for the leadership to represent what the party claims to be, which is transformation, a party that is for everyone.
“Part of the challenge for any party is to be sensitive to gender balance, especially if a party claims to be progressive,” said Mdletye. — firstname.lastname@example.org