She was elected unopposed to take the reigns of the party from James Masango.

New DA leader Jane Sithole broke into tears when she recalled how eMalahleni councillor Koos Venter and his wife Marianne supported her throughout her political career.

Sithole was elected unopposed as the leader of Mpumalanga DA and delegates cheered rapturously when the party’s electoral team announced her and Bosman Grobler, who became the chair.

The DA has the position of leader who leads the party and that of chairperson, who presides over meetings.

“Many people have shaped my life and my career in politics,” Sithole said while on stage at the main hall of the Graceland Casino in Secunda on Saturday evening.

“I would not be standing before you today if it was not for the support and encouragement that I received from the time I was 29 years old from Koos and Marianne Venter,” she said, before starting to break into tears.

New DA leader weeps when recalling how Koos Venter supported her

“They have raised me and today they are raising my children,” she said, sobbing.

She joined the DA in 1999 and met the Venter family while they were going to gym together.

She was addressing conference as the newly elected leader and said she was proud to serve under the caucus leadership of Venter for 13 years, thankful that “someone believed in me when I did not believe in myself”.

“It is an emotional journey when I look back,” she told the conference.

New DA leader weeps when recalling how Koos Venter supported her

Jane Sithole and Koos Venter in July 2016. PIC Witbank News

Venter is the man who who led a DA march to the eMalahleni police station to lay criminal charges against Theo van Vuuren, the former eMalahleni municipal manager accused of being at the centre of the maladministration and corruption at the eMalahleni municipality.

The fraud and corruption charge Venter laid against Van Vuuren was that he facilitated payments of close to R1 million out of the municipal bank account to a private account while he served as municipal manager there.

“Let’s hold one another’s hand and work together,” Sithole said on Saturday.

New DA leader weeps when recalling how Koos Venter supported her

“Where they preach hate, we must preach love. Where they preach division, we must preach unity. Where they preach fear, we must preach hope,” Sithole said.

“Democrats we need to make sure that the message of hope is more powerful than their message of hate,” she said.

Trudie Grove-Morgan was elected Sithole’s deputy.

New DA leader weeps when recalling how Koos Venter supported her

Trudie Grove-Morgan

The conference also elected Themba Mlotshwa to serve as Grobler’s deputy.

Annerie Weber will serve as the chairwoman of DA Women’s Network, deputised by Elsie van Douwe.

Palesa Mobango got elected as the leader of Mpumalanga DA Youth, deputised by Kuzwakele Mdau and Linky Shongwe.

(edited by ZK)

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