July 28, 2019 / 1:13 PM / 24 days ago

Former South African opposition leader Zille joins free market think tank

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille arrives for then President Jacob Zuma's Sate of the Nation address at the opening session pf Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The former head of South Africa’s official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party and ex-premier of the Western Cape province, Helen Zille, will join think tank the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), the group said on Sunday.

Zille, 68, led the centre-right DA between 2007 and 2015, but she has recently fallen out with the party’s leadership, mainly over differing stances on affirmative action and other economic policies.

Zille has clashed on social media with her successor and current DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who was appointed to broaden the party’s appeal beyond its white middle-class base, as well as a section of the party known as the “black caucus”, which is pushing for more empowerment-based policies.

The IRR says it stands for classic liberalism, and is seen by some analysts as a powerful lobby group pushing for the opposition party to move closer to its roots of private property ownership, individual rights and market friendly economic policy.

Zille, who stepped down as premier of Western Cape province in June after two terms, will be a senior policy fellow and analyst at IRR.

“She will be adding her considerable influence to IRR efforts to build support to stop expropriation without compensation (EWC), protect savings and pensions, halt efforts to destroy the South African healthcare sector through NHI (national health insurance),” the IRR said in a statement.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Susan Fenton

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