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Those who do well should continue – DA’s Free State leader hints at support for Steenhuisen

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Photo: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Photo: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

  • The DA’s Roy Jankielsohn was re-elected as the party’s Free State leader. 
  • The DA holds six seats in the provincial legislature and hopes to grow its support at the 2024 national elections. 
  • Jankielsohn was reluctant to speak about the DA’s national leadership race.

Despite some reluctance to weigh in on the DA’s national leadership contest, the party’s recently re-elected Free State leader, Roy Jankielsohn, believes it has done well in positioning itself under the leadership of John Steenhuisen. 

Jankielsohn was the first DA leader to be elected at a provincial conference, which was held in the Free State at the weekend. 

This is Jankielsohn’s fourth stint as a provincial leader, and he was re-elected to the position uncontested.

The position was previously held by Patricia Kopane, who left the party last year to join ActionSA. 

Kopane had cited the toxic culture in the DA as part of her exit.

She was one of several leaders who left the party in recent months. 

Jankielsohn described his re-election as a sign of confidence from fellow DA members in the province. 

READ | ‘I do not feel that I belong in the DA’: Patricia Kopane calls it quits

The DA has six seats in the 30-seat Free State legislature. The ANC has 19 seats, the EFF four, and the Freedom Front Plus 1. 

The DA had two seats in 2000 when the party decided to launch the Free State constituency. Now, it has six. 

Jankielsohn said that, despite the small numbers, the party believed it had done well in positioning itself as an alternative to the ANC.

Jankielsohn said the six seats were a symbol of pride for the party, especially since, for years, it had to contend with former premier Ace Magashule’s political clout in the province. 

Jankielsohn told News24 on Wednesday:

It speaks well for the party’s growth in the province because we have also had to deal with an Ace Magashule leadership of the Free State for many years. He was a very strong, charismatic leader even though he was controversial. Despite that, we were able to grow.

Despite the ANC receiving over 60% of electoral support in the 2019 general elections, Jankielsohn said it could dip below 50% after the 2024 elections. 

He told News24 that, despite the DA’s unwillingness to work with the EFF, his approach was different – and he had found some willingness to entertain a legislative compromise with the EFF. 

The DA governs two municipalities in the Free State – Metsimaholo and Fezile Dabi – because the EFF decided to vote DA candidates into office following the 2021 municipal elections. 

READ | DA leader candidates play down the need for large-scale change

“We can have informal arrangements. In the legislature, the opposition talks well together because it is not about national issues, but we talk purely about service delivery issues,” Jankielsohn said. 

Some of the DA’s provincial conferences will occur before its national conference, where a new party leader may emerge.

So far, only Steenhuisen and Mpho Phalatse have raised their hands for the job. 

Jankielsohn refused to divulge who he would be backing, saying his province was focused on internal issues rather than national ones.

He, however, gave an indication that he believed the DA had done well, politically, with Steenhuisen at the helm.

“I think the DA has done well nationally in the past few years, and we have positioned ourselves in Parliament. We need experience and, in many instances, continuity. We should allow them to continue to do well,” Jankielsohn said. 

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