Race on for the DA's next leader after Zille announces exit

The next 28 days will be thick with anticipation over who will lead the country's official opposition party at the DA's upcoming congress in May.

This follows Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille's announcement on Sunday 12 April that she will not be standing for re-election after leading the party for eight years. Zille spoke about her term as president with pride and says that her decision is in the best interest of the party and South Africa.

We have the most diverse leadership of any party in South Africa and the most diverse provincial leadership too; and I’d like to think I had a role in making that happen.

She explains her reasons for stepping down

Zille rejected claims that the DA is still an institutionally white party and told CapeTalk/702's Redi Tlhabi that the race of her successor is secondary to their leadership ability.

She told CapeTalk's Africa Melane that she was stepping down to allow for a new team and "fresh blood" to continue to carry the party forward. She says there is a great depth of candidates who could potentially lead the DA in her place, but that she will not be getting involved in the succession process.

I felt that another team could do better in the 2016 elections, that is why I made my decision; it’s not to say that there is any one candidate [in mind].

Political commentator Eusebius McKaiser told Africa Melane that this decision is a win-win for both Helen Zille and the DA. McKaiser says that is the right time for her to go. He predicts that, although there isn't an ideal candidate, Mmusi Maimane will most likely succeed Zille.

After Lindiwe Mazibuko announced that she will not be returning to run in the race to lead the DA, speculation continues as to who the most eligible candidates are.

Could Mmusi Maimane be a potential successor?

DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane told 702's John Robbie that he would take time to deliberate with his family and fellow members on whether he should contest come the congress in May.

Maimane had this to say on whether he would be contesting the party's federal congress:

No, not at this stage, it has implications personally for our own family but it is something we are thinking about quite extensively to see and I have been spending the last 24 to 48 hours to see if we do stand, that it's an election we're set to win. We will have a contest, but I know that after that, the DA will stand united and fight for the values of South Africans. I'm really more optimistic than ever for the future of the DA.

The DA leader has also announced that she will remain premier of the Western Cape until her term ends in 2019.

Read the full statement here.

Listen to the full conversation on the Redi Tlhabi show:

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