THE Democratic Alliance (DA) may have decided its mayoral candidates for two of what it calls its “big five” targets in next year’s local government elections‚ but the race to become the party’s mayoral candidate for Johannesburg is wide open.
Athol Trollip will take on the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) Danny Jordaan in Nelson Mandela Bay, and Solly Msimanga will carry the blue baton in Pretoria‚ while Patricia de Lille is seen as a shoo-in in Cape Town. Johannesburg and the Tlokwe council in Potchefstroom complete the DA “big five” targets.
The party’s Gauteng leader‚ John Moodey‚ said on Friday that the internal process to select the Johannesburg mayoral candidate will start very soon‚ and that he wanted it finalised by the middle of November.
“Although Johannesburg and Tshwane will be the main focus‚ we will also deploy much resources to Midvaal‚ which we govern already‚ its neighbours Emfuleni and Lesedi‚ and Mogale City on the West Rand‚ which we think is winnable‚” Mr Moodey said.
On the Gauteng provincial ballot during last year’s general election‚ the ANC barely topped 50%‚ taking 52% of the vote‚ followed by the DA on 32%‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters on 10%‚ the Inkatha Freedom Party on 1% and a bunch of parties hovering around the 0.5% mark. This means a swing of only 2% could bring coalition government to Johannesburg‚ the country’s most glittering municipal prize.
He did not want to name any potential candidates‚ but wide-ranging discussions with DA sources in Gauteng showed the race to be wide open‚ with four possible contenders: Wits academic Rabelani Dagada‚ Gauteng MPL Khume Ramulifho and MPs Makashule Gana and Heinrich Volmink.
Mr Gana‚ who earlier this year ran for the party’s federal chairman post‚ said he would do what is in the best interests of the party.
“I remain a disciplined member of the DA and if the organisation feels that the prospects of winning Johannesburg with me as mayoral candidate‚ then I will align myself to the goals of the organisation.”
He said he hadn’t thought “that deep” on the issue but said that as Johannesburg resident for 11 years‚ it is “not a task I would not be able to fulfil”.
“I have lived there‚ it is where I do my politics‚” he said.
Mr Dagada was forthright‚ saying: “If I get nominated I will accept. I already have a manifesto.”
His detailed manifesto of 39 pages is entitled “Vuka Jozi” — “Wake up Johannesburg”.
Mr Dagada said his work in government‚ academia‚ business and non-profit organisations meant that he could “add a lot of value”. “I have a plan‚” he said.
He said the decision was not an easy one as his career as an academic and his businesses would have to take a back seat should he be elected.
“But I feel very strongly that if we win Johannesburg and we win Tshwane‚ there is no doubt that the DA will win Gauteng in 2019.”
Mr Volmink said it was “early days yet‚ but yes I am considering putting my name forward”.
“I believe that Johannesburg‚ which is our country’s economic hub‚ should not face the chronic service delivery crises it currently experiences.
“My inner city constituents in the Johannesburg Central constituency have placed great faith in me to run. They want not just words. They want action. I have not taken any final decision yet‚ but I am considering it‚” he said.
On Friday‚ Mr Ramulifho‚ who is the party’s Gauteng South regional chairman and spokesman on education‚ claimed he had not yet given the matter any thought.
MP Gordon Mackay‚ who is the DA spokesman on energy‚ said he had been approached but had decided not to run.
“I believe all positions in the DA must be hotly contested and that Johannesburg will produce an excellent candidate‚” he said.
Businessman Herman Mashaba said he had been contacted‚ but had decided to rather remain a DA activist and fundraiser‚ and not to enter elective politics at this stage.