In an open letter to all DA members, De Lille said she believed Maimane had the right qualities to lead the party and his relatively short time in formal politics did not detract from this.
The country was in crisis and it was the DA’s responsibility to show it in a different direction, she added.
“I believe that Mmusi Maimane is the person to lead our party and create a political home for all South Africans in search of this direction. I have had the benefit of discussing our future with Mmusi personally and I believe in his vision for the DA and for the country.
“Like Mmusi, I am a relatively recent member of the DA. Like him, I do not believe that you have to have time served to demonstrate leadership or embrace an ideal. You have to have the right abilities and the right principles required for the task at hand. At this historic moment, Mmusi has these in abundance.”
The DA will elect its new leader at its federal congress in Port Elizabeth on May 9 and 10 after Helen Zille announced earlier this month that she would not be seeking another term.
Maimane’s main contender for the job is academic turned politician Wilmot James.