South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is set to elect a new leader on May 9. The party has been led on a path of substantial growth by its current leader, Helen Zille.
The two front-runners to succeed Zille are Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James. Breaking the tradition of strictly internal campaigning for the top spot, James challenged Mmusi to a public debate in a tweet on Monday: "So today, here and now, I challenge Mmusi Maimane to a public debate about the future of our party and the future of our country.”
Described as a more convincing speaker, Mmusi, age 34, promptly accepted the invitation to defend his candidacy against the 62-year-old Wilmot.
This is an exciting development in South African politics considering the current ruling party's (the ANC's) shady methods of electing its leadership.
The public debate has afforded citizens the opportunity to better understand the positions of both potential leaders. The transparent nature of the DA leadership race is a good indicator that the party is ready to affect the democratic values that it advocates.
The outcome of the race depends heavily on internal party endorsements from two major provinces. The first is the Western Cape, where most of the leadership is backing Mmusi including Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille.
The second is Gauteng which seems to be more divided in their support although it is starting to lean in Mmusi’s favor.
In light of Wilmot intensifying his campaign efforts it would still be a safer bet to put your money on Mmusi to win.
Should Mmusi win he will be the first black leader of the DA. This will give much-needed weight to representing the DA as a cultural and racially diverse party, breaking the old perception that they are white at the core.
Matthew Klynsmith earned a business administration diploma at CTI in Cape Town, South Africa. He now works at Strategic Options as an associate partner. To read more reports from Matthew Klynsmith, Go Here Now.
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