For most people, this has been coming a long way. However, it has finally been confirmed that the opposition’s Mmusi Maimane has been appointed the Democratic Alliance’s leader in parliament. This happened on Thursday in parliament when the opposition held elections for its parliamentary caucus. Maimane then went on to introduce his caucus to the House.
In his acceptance speech, the man who has been dubbed little Obama, said that it was a great honour for him to have been elected his party’s parliamentary leader, adding that he was leading a team that had vast experience despite the fact that he has not had any parliamentary experience. He emphasized that his team was ready to work immediately. The man who stood as the DAs candidate for Gauteng premier, was elected unopposed and he replaces Lindiwe Mazibuko, who decided to take a year’s leave of absence apparently to study at Harvard. There are, however conflicting statements from both the media and the party itself about the reasons why Mazibuko decided to step down from her post.
Also elected in the same meeting was the caucus chairperson, Anchen Dreyer who went in unopposed. Dreyer has been a member of a number of parliamentary portfolios since becoming a member of the National Assembly in 2005. Her deputy will be Richard Majola, who has been speaker in the Western Cape provincial legislature. The chief whip is the other position in which there was no opposition while Mike Waters and Sandy Kalyan had to fight out for the position of deputy chief whip, with the former coming out the victor by 63 to 36. John Steenhuisen, who is a former Thekwini City Councillor and a caucus leader in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, will be the party’s new chief whip. The DA in parliament also voted for it’s leader in the Council of Provinces and this position was retained by the incumbent, Elza van Lingen, with Kathy Labuschagne as the chief whip in this council.
A lot of concern has been raised about the inexperience of Maimane as a member of parliament. This, the party seems to have managed to play down well. On his relationship with the party leader and, consequently, his boss, Maimane said that he and Zille had a good working relationship. He added, in response to questions by members of the media that there was no blanket on Zille’s return to parliament. He said that it was an option that could be reviewed in a year’s time. He however, added that the final decision on returning or not rested entirely with Zille herself.