"In recent months, the DA has been through a period of turmoil and distress. As a party, it is important for us to reflect, to introspect and to begin the process of reconnecting with voters."
That's how former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille summed up the party's current crossroads when she made the surprise announcement on Friday that she's standing for the position of chairperson of its federal council.
Current DA leader leader Mmusi Maimane is embroiled in controversy over his Claremont home and a vehicle said to have been sponsored by disgraced former Steinhoff chief Markus Jooste.
A new federal council chair will be elected later this month when James Selfe steps down after close to 20 years in the job.
Zille will be up against Athol Trollip, Thomas Walters and Mike Waters.
Professor Erwin Schwella, dean of the School of Social Innovation at Hugenote Kollege predicts it will be a two-horse race between Zille and Trollip.
They are both definitely good loyal candidates if one can find some kind of coherence in the DA because in the DA there are a number of factions.— Prof. Erwin Schwella, Dean - School of Social Innnovation at Hugenote Kollege
You've got what you might call ANC-lite, you've got liberals, you've got 'New Nats' or 'Old Nats' and then a bunch of all-sorts.— Prof. Erwin Schwella, Dean - School of Social Innnovation at Hugenote Kollege
Professor Schwella says political parties need "glue" to hold them together and the question is whether the DA has enough of it to go forward.
This can either take the form of a strong ideological drive or interests he explains, and in the case of the official opposition which has started to lose electoral support, less privilege and positions are now available.
He says the answer is probably for the party to rediscover a strong ideology and stick to that, as opposed to wanting to become the government-in-waiting.
They're not going to govern as the DA in South Africa, that's not going to happen.— Prof. Erwin Schwella, Dean - School of Social Innnovation at Hugenote Kollege
They must find a way of combining the ideology of whatever it may be - more social democratic, more liberal - with some instrumental purpose, which might be good governance and then stick to that and then wait until the ANC finally divides and breaks down and then a new coalition arises.— Prof. Erwin Schwella, Dean - School of Social Innnovation at Hugenote Kollege
For more insights into the DA's path forward, listen below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'DA needs to rediscover a strong ideology and stick to it'