Next month, South Africa?s largest opposition party ? the Democratic Alliance ? will choose a new leader to replace Tony Leon. Leon, who is stepping down, became leader of the Democratic Party in 1994, and then guided its transition into the Democratic Alliance in 2002.

Three candidates are vying for the job. The frontrunner appears to be Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille. .

VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following political developments in South Africa. From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the race for Democratic Alliance party leader, starting with Zille.

?She seems to be gathering quite a fair amount of support around her. She has strong support in some of the party?s traditional bases such as around the Johannesburg area and around the Durban area. So, I think those are some of the reasons why she?s considered a strong contender,? she says.

Robertson says Zille is also considered tough in political circles. ?I suppose of the three she is more in the mold of the current leader of the party, Tony Leon, than any of the others. She is a very, very tough lady. She has done quite s sterling job as mayor of cape Town over the past year or so?she?s extremely outspoken and is not always sensitive to the people in other racial groups, in the same way that Tony Leon wasn?t,? she says.

Another candidate is part chairman Joe Seremane. ?He?s a black South African and would appeal to people in the party who believe that they need to garner support from black South Africans, where they have almost no support at present,? she says.

The third candidate is Athol Trollip, who?s from the Eastern cape. He has been hitting the campaign trail frequently in hopes of raising party member awareness of his candidacy. ?He says that he?s white on the outside, but black on the inside. He?s fluent in one of our African languages?and he says that he can draw support from the black community to the Democratic Alliance,? says Robertson.