Race politics dominate DA Gauteng race

2012-01-21 17:00

Race politics is set to dominate the DA’s leadership contest in Gauteng as two candidates, Ian Ollis and John Moodey, have declared their availability a week before the deadline.

Some party pundits have said they would back a black candidate for leader because it could help the DA get closer to victory in Gauteng in the 2014 general election.

Ollis, an MP, on Tuesday announced his candidacy; while Moodey, caucus leader in the Gauteng legislature, told City Press on Friday that he would be standing, but he wouldn’t run a public campaign for leadership. The election is scheduled for March 10 in Pretoria.

DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, who was recruited to the party before last year’s local government elections, said he was still undecided.

There was talk that he would withdraw and back Moodey, but on Friday Maimane said: “The conversation is still continuing. We must always establish what’s best for the party, what’s best for Gauteng and what’s best for the voters.”

Maimane, a Johannesburg DA caucus leader who ran as a mayoral candidate, was recently appointed the party’s national spokesperson.
 
There are concerns he might be spreading himself too thin and may “set himself up for failure” if he is elected provincial leader.

Maimane admitted that race would play a role in the elections, but said it wouldn’t dominate. “The unfortunate issue is that race issues are going to come up again. It’s part of the story but not a complete story.”

Moodey claimed to have secured support from incumbent provincial leader Janet Semple, who beat him in 2010, but Semple told City Press she might still decide to run for a second term.

“There is no reason why I shouldn’t stand myself. It is a serious position and the DA is looking at Gauteng for the 2014 elections.”

Moodey was first elected provincial leader late in 2006. Following his re-election three years later, Moodey was disqualified after “robust electioneering” in which he claimed to have the “block” support of Dawn, the party’s women’s network.

At the time his supporters claimed his ban was a way of blocking Moodey because of his skin colour, but Moodey said his merits extend beyond race. “The vast majority of voters are mature enough not to look at colour but at what the party represents.”

Ollis agreed that it was about “character”. “This is not a race for the premier candidate (in 2014). We will choose the premier candidate closer to the election.”

Ollis’ chance of winning is believed to have been strengthened by the election of black leaders in two of the four Gauteng regions.

His white skin could be a liability at a time when the party is trying to appeal to a broader base of voters in traditional ANC strongholds by promoting black leaders.

Another candidate who might throw his hat into the ring is MP Sej Motau, who recently lost the race for DA parliamentary chair against Wilmot James. Motau said he would make a formal announcement by Thursday.

Ollis, an MP, on Tuesday announced his candidacy, while Moodey, caucus leader in the Gauteng legislature, told City Press on Friday he would be standing but he wouldn’t run a public campaign for leadership. The election will happen on March 10 in Pretoria.

DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane, who was recruited to the party before last year’s local government elections, said he was still undecided.

There were talks that he would withdraw and back Moodey, but on Friday Maimane said: “The conversation is still continuing. We must always establish what’s best for the party, what’s best for Gauteng, and what’s best for the voters.”

Maimane, a Johannesburg DA caucus leader after running as mayoral candidate, was recently appointed the party’s national spokesperson.

There are concerns that he might be spreading himself too thin and “set himself up for failure” if he is elected provincial leader.

Maimane admitted that race would play a role in the elections but it wouldn’t dominate. “It is part of the story but not the complete story. The unfortunate thing is that those issues are going to come up again in this race.”

Moodey claimed to have secured support from incumbent provincial leader Janet Semple, who beat him in 2010, but Semple told City Press she might still decide to run for a second term.

“There is no reason why I shouldn’t stand myself. It is a serious position and the DA is looking at Gauteng for the 2014 elections.”

Moodey was first elected provincial leader late in 2006. Following his re-election three years later, Moodey was disqualified because of “robust electioneering” for claiming to have a “block” support of the party’s women’s network, Dawn.

At the time his supporters claimed his ban was a way of blocking Moodey because of his skin colour.

Moodey, however, said his merits extended beyond his race.

“The vast majority of voters out there are mature enough not to look at colour but at what the party represents.”

Ollis agreed that it was about “character”. “This is not a race for the premier candidate (in 2014). We will choose the premier candidate closer to the election.”

Ollis’s chances of winning is believed to have been strengthened by the election of black leaders in two of the four Gauteng regions.

His white skin could be a liability in a time when the party is looking to appeal to a broader base of voters in traditional ANC strongholds by promoting black leaders.

Another candidate who might throw his hat into the ring is MP Sej Motau, who recently lost the race for DA parliamentary chair against James Wilmot.

Motau said he would make a decision by tomorrow. “I will make a formal announcement by Thursday.”

Although party leader Helen Zille would have a vote, it is unlikely that she would publicly endorse a candidate.

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