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DA to become the first party in SA to hold an online congress


DA to become the first party in SA to hold an online congress

Helen Zille, chair of the DA federal council, said this week that it has assembled a team of technology gurus to help it put systems in place that will allow about 2,000 delegates to gather in a virtual platform and run a free and fair election amid Covid-19 challenges.

The DA is gearing up to be the first party in SA to hold an elective conference online as it seeks to install a full-time leader to take charge of its electoral campaign ahead of next year’s municipal polls.

Zille said in an interview that the party has already begun testing its technology-based systems by, among other things, convening a virtual sitting of a panel to select a mayoral candidate for the town of George.”We are doing more and more party processes online. We have a local government webinar [with more than 300 participants] online at the end of the month.

“Then we will have a policy conference [most likely online] early in September. Then we move to the congress,” Zille said.”I have a team of technology experts working on this challenge and their initial report-backs are very encouraging. It is absolutely possible to have an election online that is free, fair and secret.

“We are finding ways to ensure that we can also have complex debates, and the policy conference will give us pointers to that.”

Zille said that with the technology available, there was no reason to further delay the policy and national congresses, which had been scheduled for April and May respectively. “I am not in favour of delaying any congresses, provincial or national. We have to get the internal contestation done so we can all focus, as one team, on the election.”

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen is considered a frontrunner in the DA leadership race following the resignation of Mmusi Maimane last year.DA Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey is also running for the position of national party leader, with KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli vying for the DA’s top job too.

Moodey has questioned whether it is possible to gather “2,000 delegates on a virtual platform at one time”.Ntuli said she will make her views known once proposals have been formally tabled before all DA structures. Steenhuisen’s campaign manager, Dean McPherson, said they are confident that an online congress would be free and fair.

“The party is exceptionally good at operationalising issues like that and I have full confidence that they will find a way for every single person, from a rural branch to an urban branch, to have their say and to represent their branch or constituency.”He said it is important for the DA to go into municipal elections with an elected leader with a mandate from party members.

“I think that it would be unprecedented for the party, or any political party, to go into a major election without a mandate from the party to do so, and also I think that the voters would take issue with us not having an elected leadership. Any coalition agreements that are going to have to be negotiated need to be done by a mandated leadership,” said McPherson.



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