US-style dawns in SA – Live Leadership TV debate for DA duo

Live television debates have become an integral part of the democratic process in many advanced countries. Entire elections have been won or lost on the ability of candidates to think on their feet. SA’s Official Opposition party is hoping to start a similar trend. The two major candidates in the battle to succeed Helen ZIlle as DA leader, young buck Mmusi Maimane and experienced opponent Wilmot James, will be facing off Monday night on independent channel kykNET. We hope the tradition spreads. Transparency fans democracy’s fire.  – Alec Hogg 

By Jan-Jan Joubert of RDM News Wire:

The two main contenders for the Democratic Alliance (DA) leadership‚ Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James‚ are going to face off in a television debate.

A photo taken from the official Facebook page "Maimane for leader campaign".
A photo taken from the official Facebook page “Maimane for leader campaign”.

Spokespersons for both camps confirmed on Sunday that James and Maimane will be participating in a live debate on Multichoice pay channel kykNET on Monday night‚ May 4‚ on the actuality programme Insig‚ which features discussion and debate in English and Afrikaans.

The debate will be anchored by the show’s host‚ Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser.

On Saturday‚ when addressing the DA KwaZulu-Natal provincial congress in Richards Bay‚ James challenged Maimane to a series of public debates.

Prominent KZN Maimane supporters immediately shouted “Bring it on!”‚ and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen‚ who supports Maimane‚ later confirmed that they had agreed to participate.

Both Maimane and James had rousing receptions in Richards Bay‚ with both camps claiming the momentum is with their candidate.

On Sunday‚ James’s campaign manager‚ David Maynier. said they wanted as many public debates as possible‚ and Maimane’s campaign manager‚ Geordin Hill-Lewis‚ said they were up for as many public debates as the campaigning schedule allows before the party’s federal congress in Port Elizabeth on May 9 and 10.

Apart from Maimane and James‚ two lesser-known candidates‚ Adrian Naidoo and Morgan Oliphant‚ have also been nominated to replace Helen Zille as DA leader. Both are DA branch members – Naidoo from Johannesburg and Oliphant from Klerksdorp in the North West.

Wilmot James.
Wilmot James.

Candidates will have the opportunity to meet and address delegates to the federal congress at four different occasions this week‚ but they will not debate. All these meetings are closed to the media.

The first delegate meeting was in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. It will be followed by meetings in Cape Town on Monday afternoon‚ Johannesburg on Thursday and Durban on Friday.

Meanwhile‚ in a major upset in Ricahrds Bay‚ DA leader in the Ethekwini metro‚ Zwakele Mncwango‚ unseated incumbent Sizwe Mchunu by a margin of 143 votes to 138 to become the new DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal.

Also over the weekend‚ veteran DA leader in North West Chris Hattingh announced his decision to stand down at the North West DA congress on May 30th. – Parliament Bureau