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S.Africa opposition begins congress expected to elect black leader

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th May 2015 06:41 PM

South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party was expected to elect its first black leader at a congress starting Saturday that has been billed as a watershed moment for the predominantly white party.

S.Africa opposition begins congress expected to elect black leader

South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party was expected to elect its first black leader at a congress starting Saturday that has been billed as a watershed moment for the predominantly white party.

South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party was expected to elect its first black leader at a congress starting Saturday that has been  billed as a watershed moment for the predominantly white party.

"This congress is a turning point, not only for the DA but also for South Africa," the party's outgoing leader of eight years, Helen Zille, said in her farewell speech.

All eyes are on Mmusi Maimane, 34, the party's parliamentary leader, who is tipped to succeed her in a vote Sunday by 1,425 delegates.

The vote is expected to be a duel between Maimane, who was raised in Soweto, the heartland of the anti-apartheid movement, and Wilmot James, a 61-year-old mixed-race party veteran.

"The DA new leadership to be elected tomorrow can count on every ounce of my support," said Zille.

The charismatic former journalist and anti-apartheid activist has not endorsed any candidate to succeed her.

"This congress marks a new chapter for South Africa," she said, predicting the party would be in government in the forseeable future.

During her speech, supporters held up blue and white posters marked "Thank You Helen Zille" as images from various stages of her political career were displayed on a big screen behind the stage.

Delegates lauded her for growing the party's base.

"Under her leadership, the DA has become the most diverse party in South Africa...the DA is better off than it was before," said Patricia de Lille, mayor of Cape Town, which is governed by the party.

Under Zille the DA made inroads in areas long dominated by the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Maimane himself broke away from the ANC to join the DA.

The DA boosted its share of the vote from 16.6 percent in 2009 to 22.2 percent in 2014 elections, but still struggles to present itself as a credible alternative to the ANC, which has ruled since the formal end of apartheid in 1994.
 

AFP

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S.Africa opposition begins congress expected to elect black leader

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