Sat, 11 Jul 2020

DA Eastern Cape to have its own virtual congress

News24
29 May 2020, 21:11 GMT+10

Despite opposition to holding a virtual congress, the DA in the Eastern Cape wants to look into the idea.The provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga will seek a second term.

The proposal to host a provincial virtual congress will be opposed.

The DA in the Eastern Cape has joined its national office in calling for a national provincial elective congress this year.

Provincial chairperson Andrew Whitfield told News24 the federal executive was investigating the feasibility of hosting its first ever digital provincial elective congress.

This after its provincial executive committee resolved to support convening a virtual provincial elective congress.

"We will do dry runs and conduct investigations into connectivity and network challenges across the province to ensure that no DA member is excluded. We have a comprehensive network of public representatives, staff and offices across the province to enable the success of this project. This proposal will be submitted for scrutiny and ratification at the next provincial executive committee meeting," he said.

The conference is expected to take place in August.

Whitfield told News24 the party was the first to conclude its 380 branch audits and annual general meetings in February which would better enable the province to move forward with its proposal.

But, much like its national office, the province's proposal could face revolt.

Two party leaders in the province told News24 they would not support the proposal.

One provincial leader said while the proposal was cutting edge, in reality, the province did not have the infrastructure to hold a virtual conference.

"We have been successful at launching branches all over this vast province. Unless you transport those delegates to specific areas of excess, they won't be able to participate. I would be surprised if we do proceed to have a virtual conference," the leader said.

News24 understands that provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga will run for a second term uncontested.

READ | Virtual conference will not be free, fair and credible - why Mbali Ntuli wants DA congress postponed

Bhanga took over the leadership of the party's provincial structures from his ally, Athol Trollip, in 2017. Bhanga told News24 he supported the call and added that the province would be led the way towards the 4th industrial revolution.

"We have a young, dynamic and vibrant leadership in the province. We need to move towards the 4IR. If we don't take these bold steps, we will never get to where we want to go as a nation," he said.

Last week, News24 reported that the DA's federal executive (FedEx) recommended to the party's federal council (FedCo) that they hold their leadership election via a virtual platform at the end of October - a development believed to work in favour of interim leader John Steenhuisen's bid to become the permanent leader.

This after the party held a virtual FedEx meeting on 16 March.

At the meeting, DA Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana proposed that the leadership election be held after next year's local government elections.

This was seconded by KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango. The reasoning behind the proposal for the delayed conference is the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was also an argument that a virtual election would leave out the poor, given access to technology and areas with poor network coverage.

Another argument rang that it would be unfair to Steenhuisen's competitors for the top spot, Mbali Ntuli and John Moodey.

There won't be public debates, and Ntuli and Moodey won't be able to address crowds, while Steenhuisen has more access due to his position as interim leader.

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