Port Elizabeth – The DA Eastern Cape leader, Athol Trollip, has been selected as the party’s mayoral candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay in the upcoming 2016 local government elections.
Trollip, who was also the DA’s candidate for the position of Eastern Cape premier in the 2014 general elections, was the front runner for the position and was confirmed as the official candidate by the DA electoral college today.
DA federal executive chairperson, James Selfe, confirmed Trollip’s selection, saying the party was excited to have a member as experienced as Trollip as mayoral candidate.
Trollip said he would be throwing himself into the election campaign to win Nelson Mandela Bay from the ANC next year.
“We have narrowed the gap between the DA and the ANC significantly with each election and we believe that the DA can win this metro next year,” he said.
Trollip has made it clear that he will not be contesting the position of federal leader of the DA, following Helen Zille’s announcement that she would not be standing for re-election at the congress taking place in Nelson Mandela Bay on the May 9.
“There has been a lot of media speculation and a lot for the party to think about over the past 24 hours. I am not standing for the position of Federal Leader of the DA. I have been nominated to stand as federal chairperson and it is a position I continue to campaign for ahead of the congress,” he said.
“The support I receive on a daily basis is humbling and inspiring. I will get behind, and actively support, whoever is successfully elected as federal leader,” he said.
Key metro for DA
There is a lot of focus on Nelson Mandela Bay ahead of the general elections, with the municipality being considered a key metro for the DA. It accounts for 44% of the provincial Gross Regional Product and includes the Coega Industrial Development Zone, as well as the adjacent Ngqura deep water port.
The ANC-led municipality has also battled with political instability and factional infighting that has seen three Nelson Mandela Bay mayors in the space of five years.
The ANC are fully aware of the challenges they have ahead of the elections next year, with President Jacob Zuma selecting a 31-member regional task team that has been mandated with rebuilding the ANC in the region.
Led by veteran ANC MP and former defence minister, Charles Nqakula, the regional task team includes former MECs Thobile Mhlahlo and Dennis Neer, former deputy mayor Bicks Ndoni, and former Eastern Cape health boss and Uitenhage businessman Dr Siva Pillay.
Looking at the numbers, voting trends since 2006 indicate that there is a very strong possibility that the DA could be able to take control of the municipality.
Statistically, over the past three elections, the DA has grown from 24.4% (137 099) of the vote in 2006, to 40.2% (146 559) in 2011 and then up to 40.8% (177 952) in the 2014 national elections.
At the same time, support for the ANC has dwindled from 66.5% (373 961) in 2006, to 52.1% (189 867) in 2011 and dropped below 50% for the first time, to 48.8% (212 862), in the 2014 national elections.
Another interesting trend is the emergence of the EFF last year, securing 4.2% (18 077) of the vote. Their presence in the upcoming elections, while marginal, is predicted to further erode the ANC’s shrinking support base.
Comparing the growth in votes between the 2011 and 2014 elections, in real terms, the ANC’s support grew by 22 995 whereas the DA’s growth increased by 31 393. This is an indication that the support base of the DA in growing at grassroots level.
With just 34 910 votes difference between the two parties in 2014, there is a lot at stake for both the ANC and the DA and an intense battle for votes is sure to ensue over the coming months.