De Lille replacement: Zille confirms she's been approached, but wants to finish term as premier

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has confirmed that she's been approached by some members of the DA about a possible return to the Cape Town mayoral position. However, she says she wants to finish her work in the province.

Zille – who served as the party's mayor in the City of Cape Town from 2006 to 2009, told News24 on Wednesday that she was "not ruling anything out" on applying for the position, but her desire was to stay on in her current capacity.

This follows a story in Die Burger on Wednesday that some senior members of the DA's Cape Town caucus see her as the ideal figure to lead the caucus following a fractious 18 months.

"As you know, we have term limits, so I can't re-stand to be premier [next year]. There are a number of things I could do when I leave the premiership, but I would like to finish my job here," she told News24 on Wednesday.

"I'm not ruling anything out in the future, but I really do feel that I should consolidate and finish my term properly."

She said she had a term plan and a few more critical projects she still wanted to complete in her final few months as premier.

Approached by 'quite a number' of people

When asked if she would consider returning to the City once her term ends, she said:

"I really hadn't thought about it much at all, but I'm not ruling out anything, put it that way."

Also read: De Lille resignation: Charges dropped. What now?

Without mentioning names, Zille said she had "quite a number" of people had approached her about taking over from De Lille come November.

"I wouldn't say many, but quite a number."

She said, however, that she knew nothing of the finer details of the application process.

"All I can say is I have been approached but my desire is to finish my term as premier. We have a term plan and some game changers where we have to reach the critical milestones. That isn't over yet so I am working very, very hard on those.

'Humbled' by consideration

"Hopefully when I've finished my second term as premier, there are a lot of options I can look at."

Zille said that retirement was not an option for her as she approaches her 13th year in an executive post in government.

"I don't know what I'll be doing but I definitely won't be retiring. I have to work. It's my life," she laughed.

Zille described it as "humbling" that some members of the party still considered her an asset and a unifier, despite the public fallout with her party last year over controversial tweets about colonialism.

She suggested that at the heart of her Twitter controversy was a targeted effort by trolls and bots. She added that she was currently working on finding out to what extent she may have been targeted by bots.

"I am putting all of that behind me. I haven't put it behind me entirely, but I am putting it behind me. It helps me to find out exactly how this was done, and the cleanout of Twitter trolls and bots, because I can join the dots."

Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela told News24 on Monday that provincial leaders would be meeting on Monday to discuss the procedure for finding De Lille's replacement.

It involves the usual internal electoral college process.

Once the details and timelines have been established by the leadership, the party will open the process for candidates to apply for the top job in the City.

De Lille's resignation takes effect October 31.