NEWLY elected opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader in the Free State, Patricia Kopane, says she will work to grow the party’s following, while striving to address poverty and unemployment rampant in the province.
Kopane, who is currently the party’s shadow minister for health, said her aim is to achieve a steady growth of the DA’s support base and ensure the party is able to garner more than 30 percent of the vote at the 2014 general elections.
The country’s biggest opposition party has set its sights on winning power by 2019, riding on what it says is growing discontent among ordinary South Africans with the ruling ANC party’s failure to deliver basic services, corruption and a
generally poor record of governance.
“The target for 30.9 percent will not be easy to achieve but we will work hard towards that,” said Kopane, the first black woman to head the opposition party in the province.
“Come 2019, we want to be the alternative government in South Africa,” added Kopane, who was named DA leader at a party congress last weekend.
The DA won 12 percent of the national vote in the 2009 elections and increased its share of ballots to 20 percent in the last local government elections in 2011.
Kopane, who defeated another party stalwart, Basil Alexander, to claim the top post, said she would press ahead with implementing the DA’s strategic plan that she said seeks to address the myriad social and economic problems facing many people in the province.
“As a political party we believe that we cannot do things haphazardly,” she said.
“We realise that there are challenges, social problems.
“Our strategic plan gives us direction of who will be responsible for what and it helps (to) measure progress.”
Kopane succeeds Roy Jankielsohn who was described by party leader Helen Zille as a “man of integrity and emotional intelligence”.
Zille told the congress that Jankielsohn had proved himself an exemplary leader because “he didn’t have to be removed in a coup d’état . . . or in an uprising.
“He didn’t have to purge any rival leaders.
“He said, ‘I have made my contribution, I have opened the way. I have made a path and I have lifted others up so that they are in a position to follow me.’
“And that is what all good leaders do.”
The other new party office bearers are Annelie Lotriet, who comes in as the new provincial chairperson, with Ernest Tobie as her deputy.
David van Vuuren was elected chairperson for the finance portfolio.