This weekend, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council (FedCo) will sit over two-days, on Saturday and Sunday, at the Party’s Nkululeko House headquarters in Johannesburg.
The FedCo will apply its collective mind to two agenda items – namely the Report of the Organisational Review Panel and the election of a new Chairperson of the Federal Council. This briefing will deal with the latter matter and the relevant aspects.
This briefing will allow the DA to clear confusion around it structures and processes and to assist the media in factually reporting on the organisational structure of the DA. They say journalists are the first drafters of history, therefore this briefing will assist in drafting a factual first draft of this period of change for the DA as it elects a person to serve in its top leadership structures.
Federal Party Structures
The DA is a Federal Party, with several co-independent structures which direct the operations and administration of the Party. This political structure is a departure from the democratic centralism adopted by our political opponents.
At its highest level, in terms of the Federal Constitution, the supreme policy-making and governing body of the Party is the Federal Congress. It is this body that met in Tshwane last year, which was attended by over 2 000 delegates from across the country.
The Federal Congress generally meets at least once every three years, but must be convened at any time by a two-thirds majority vote of the Federal Executive, a two-thirds majority vote of the Federal Council, or when requested by a petition signed by at least five thousand members of the Party.
When the Federal Congress it not in session, the Party’s second highest body, the Federal Council, is empowered as the policy-making and governing structure of the DA. It is this body that will elect a new Chairperson of Federal Council, to replace James Selfe, who will head up the party’s Governance Unit.
James Selfe has been part of the party’s political leadership for close to two decades, and has served with dedication, humility and respect for all the Federal Leaders and leadership across the country. James has led the Party’s strategic litigation, and in the process has indirectly defined the role of the Courts in upholding the rule of law and filled gaps, which the drafters of South Africa’s Constitution did not foresee. I would again like to thank him for his service to the Party and South Africa, which he will continue to do, although in a less frontline capacity.
It’s also important to dismiss the myth that the DA does not have policies. A Party cannot govern across four provinces and the country’s biggest metros without policy direction. Therefore, at least once, during every period of five years but at least one year before any general election, the Federal Council must convene to debate, refine and update the Party’s policies. At this meeting, the Federal Council will be augmented by all premiers and provincial ministers, all mayors, and members of mayoral committees in metropolitan municipalities and all national and provincial spokespersons on portfolios.
The implementing or operational body of the DA is the Federal Executive (FedEx), which controls and directs the activities of the Party, implements decisions of the FedCo, appoints the CEO, approves coalition agreements, approves the make-up of cabinet members where we are in government; and subject to the Federal Constitution and the constitutions of the provinces, take decisions and makes regulations, binding on all Party structures, concerning membership administration, organisation, finance, discipline and other matters affecting the welfare of the Party.
The FedEx must meet regularly and whenever the Federal Leader or the Chairperson of the Federal Council so determines, or when at least one half of its members request a meeting.
FedEx is made up of around 28 people, namely the Federal Leadership, Provincial Leaders, the Chairperson the DA MP/MPL Network, the Chairperson of the Association of DA Councillors (ADAC), and representative of the party’s Senior Management Team.
The final front-facing decision-making body of the party is the National Management Committee (NMC).
The day-to-day management of the administration of the Party is entrusted to the NMC consisting of the Federal Leader, the Parliamentary Leader if the Leader is not a Member of Parliament, the Federal Chairperson and Deputy Federal Chairpersons, the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairpersons of the Federal Council, the Chief Executive Officer, the Federal Chairperson of Finance, the Chief Whip of the National Assembly and such other persons as may be co-opted to assist, subject to the agreement of the Federal Executive.
The NMC reports to each Federal Executive meeting on its activities and any decisions taken.
Other Federal bodies include the Federal Finance Committee (FFC), which is entrusted with the financial affairs of the party.
And finally, the Federal Legal Commission (FLC) is tasked with constitutional interpretations, disciplinary matters, caucus rules, and reports on its work to the FedEX and FedCo.
The Federal Leadership of the Party is in charge of upholding the image of the DA and leading the organisation, with some being elected by the Federal Congress and some elected by the FedCo.
The Leadership elected by a Congress, consists of the Federal Leader, Federal Chairperson, and three Deputy Federal Chairpersons. While the FedCo is then tasked with electing the Chairperson of the Federal Council, two Deputy Chairpersons of Federal Council and the Federal Chairperson of Finance.
This leadership component at a national level is also assisted by the Federal Leaders of the DA Women’s Network (DAWN) and DA Youth (DAY).
This Sunday, the approximately 155-members of the FedCo will elect the person they believe upholds the DA’s values of Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity, with the mission of building an Open, Opportunity Society for All.
The person elected to serve as the Chairperson of the Federal Council –
- Is entrusted with and responsible for the organisation and administration of the Party, and for developing and maintaining a high degree of efficiency in the Party;
- Implements decisions of the Federal Council and the Federal Executive;
- Works closely with the Federal Leader, the Federal Chairperson, the Federal Chairperson of Finance, and the Chief Executive Officer;
- Performs other functions and duties and exercises powers assigned to him or her, within the provisions of this Constitution, by the Federal Leader, the Federal Council and the Federal Executive;
- Has the power to delegate any of these powers to the Chief Executive Officer or other appropriate persons.
It’s vital to note that the Federal Chairperson and Chairperson of the Federal Council are two different positions.
Voting Procedure and Timeline
At the end of Saturday’s session, each candidate will have an opportunity to address the FedCo for 5-minutes, and motivate why they believe they are the best person to occupy the office of the Chairperson of Federal Council.
Thereafter, the Presiding Officer will outline how voting will unfold:
- Voting will take place on Sunday between 07:00 and 08:45;
- Delegates will be required to provide positive identification (Green Barcode ID Book / ID Card, Drivers License / Passport / Temporary ID) to receive ballots and to vote. Without identification, you will not be permitted to vote.
- There are four candidates for the position and the ballot paper with be an STV or Single Transferable Vote ballot paper where delegates must rank all four candidates in the order of their preference, i.e. 1 to 4.
- After voting, candidates and/or their candidate agents will observe the counting and capturing of results.
Once the votes have been counted and captured, the Presiding Officer will announce the results, which are expected at around midday on Sunday.
As per the Federal Constitution, the ballots will be preserved for at least 30-days; except where an appeal has been lodged in which case the ballots will be kept until the appeal has been disposed of.
Objections to the outcome of the election, should they arise, must be lodged within 48 hours after the announcement of results.
When all is said and done, the Party needs to place front of mind the fact South Africa has an ever weakening economy that is unable to work for the more than 10 million South Africans without work; we need to ensure that state capacity which has been eroded by the State Capture and its actors, many of whom still occupy public office, is done away with; we need to ensure that order is restored in our communities and people feel safe; and we need to ensure that quality services are delivered to our communities.
The Democratic Project is under threat and we cannot afford further setbacks, and the DA has a vital role in ensuring that the country walks the path towards prosperity and builds One South Africa for All.