DA LEADER Helen Zille and parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko are expected to attend and address the party’s provincial elective conference to be held in Grahamstown on Saturday.

Athol Trollip, the current DA leader in the Eastern Cape, has been nominated as provincial leader again and his position will go uncontested at this year’s conference.

He has held the position since 2002 but said when this term ends in two years, he would be ready to hand over the reins to someone else.

“It’s been an exceptionally successful period of my life – through this period we have had sustainable political growth,” he said.

Trollip said the DA’S vote base has increased since he became leader in 2002. “The only way you can measure [our] success is to measure the increased number of votes. We’ve grown systematically, not only during my term but since 1994.”

Trollip said in the next two years he would focus on growing the DA in areas where the party does not have much following. He said the DA had made inroads in the former Transkei where the ANC had a strong following.

“We went from having two councillors to 16 last year. We are going to focus on every municipality and every ward in this province.”

For the first time, DA MPL Veliswa Mvenya is the only woman and black nominee who will contest one of the two deputy leader positions, which are currently filled by Bobby Stevenson (Nelson Mandela Metro) and Donald Lee (NMM). Mvenya (Mnquma) is the only candidate from the former Transkei. She is likely to boot Lee out of his position if she wins.

“I would regard her [Mvenya] as my protégé. I’ve played a very central role in her growth in the party,” said Trollip. “She has the most difficult and biggest area that she has to control. She represents what our party stands [for]. She’s taken every opportunity to reality. She has never been given a free ride.”

Lee, on the other hand, is a staunch supporter of Zille and Mazibuko. During the 2007 leadership race, he was vocal in his support for Zille as opposed to Trollip. He did the same last year when Trollip went head to head with Mazibuko for the parliamentary leader position. Only three of the 12 candidates are from constituencies outside NMM.

Party chairman MPL Edmund van Vuuren (NMM) will be challenged by Nelson Mandela Metro councillor Nico Du Plessis.

Du Plessis has also made himself available for one of the three deputy chairman positions. Vying for the three positions are Annette Lovemore (NMM), Pine Pienaar (NMM), Nico Du Plessis (NMM), Lena May (Makana), Celeste Barker (NMM), Leon De Villiers (NMM), Shirvin Chuster (NMM) and Marshal von Vuchenrober (NMM). — abongilem@dispatch.co.za