Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson James Selfe says his party can take on an African National Congress-led Cyril Ramaphosa in the coming months, as the euphoria surrounding his election is "fast evaporating".
Selfe told News24 this week that in his view Ramaphosa was not as comfortable in his position as many South Africans thought, and that the new DA leaders would have strengths with which to challenge the ANC in the next elections.
"I think the so-called 'Ramaphoria' is fast evaporating, and there are two reasons for that," Selfe explained.
"The first was the sudden embrace of [land] expropriation without compensation, and that's not only of land, but of houses, properties and residential properties. It's a very, very wide field.
"Secondly, the Cabinet that he put together is still populated by dodgy individuals."
The DA was particularly worried about the appointment of Deputy President David Mabuza, who was "one heart attack away from becoming the president of South Africa".
"Until the ANC sorts out its internal contradictions, the country will continue to be governed in a haphazard way."
Selfe admitted that the tone going forward would be important in their interactions with Ramaphosa's government, but whether he could manoeuvre within his own "untransformed" party was the real question.
He believed that party leader Mmusi Maimane, who is also standing for re-election next month, spoke more to the youth of the country than Ramaphosa.
"There are more voters under the age of 35 than the rest of the electorate put together. He is someone who can resonate with the youth and people left behind.
"He does not own a huge house in Clifton and several farms. He is a person of the people and can resonate with people's problems in ways Cyril can't."
Constitution 'under threat'
The DA's new leadership could move forward by focusing on defending the Constitution, which Selfe believed "was under threat".
This was not only seen in the current debate on land expropriation without compensation, but also in a recent debate on the water crisis in Parliament last week.
"There were several people in the debate who said we need to change the Constitution and provincial powers to take control of water away from provinces and municipalities, and put it in the hands of central government.
"There is a myth in the ANC that [national] government can do things better than local and provincial governments. In fact, the reverse is true. It was [national] government that messed up the water situation.
"So there is a tendency to blame the Constitution, the more the ANC is under pressure for delivery, rather than their own policies and personalities who have spectacularly failed."
'Land issue will end up in ConCourt'
Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee has been tasked with looking at land expropriation without compensation and reporting back to the House in August.
Selfe said he expected to see the land debate take a long time to process, as the ANC had not presented a uniform policy on the issue.
"I can see many, many months, if not years, while the issue gets thrashed through. In fairness, it's probably an election issue anyway, and a way of neutralising the EFF.
"Whether the ANC is prepared to take it all the way to amending the Constitution is another thing altogether."
He believed there would be a number of legal challenges in the pipeline, especially around South Africa's obligations to international agreements, and did not see the issue being resolved before the next elections.
"I have no doubt it will be challenged in the Constitutional Court."
The DA's federal congress will take place on April 6 and 7 and nominations close this Friday.
The party will elect a new leader, a federal chairperson and a deputy.
It will also elect chairpersons of its federal council and its finances, and a new 155-member federal council.