The DA icon’s absence during the election campaign had the party’s rumour mill spinning out of control, as speculation mounted she might be bidding farewell to public office.
Zille’s recent trip to Germany in the middle of campaigning – which DA members said was unusual because it was “all hands on deck” for the elections – only fanned the flames.
Shortly before the provincial legislature break ahead of local government elections, some within the party believed Zille to be on her way out after she announced the publication of her book, Not Without a Fight.
High-ranking members of the party are convinced once the book is released, Zille will exit the provincial parliament and retire “on a high note”.
“There’s been much speculation about the book and what it contains, but suffice to say it contains information that many would not want public,” a source told the Cape Argus.
Other party members said they had fielded questions relating to Zille’s book, and rumours of the premier’s impending departure were “mere speculation”.
On Friday, Zille tweeted: “So glad my publishers allowed me till today to do some final work on my book to include the fantastic 2016 election climax. Must work now.”
On Sunday she posted: “Just completed my book’s final chapter on the implications of Wednesday’s election results.”
Some DA members questioned the timing of the publication of the book. “Why expose yourself unless you are planning on not being in office when the book is done,” one party member said.
Party insiders portrayed Zille as “untouchable” within the party, despite handing over the reins to Mmusi Maimane in May last year.
Zille said she chose to keep a low profile because “I’m not the leader any more”.
– Cape Argus