Johannesburg - The ANC has defended the nomination of former minister Thoko Didiza as mayoral candidate for the Tshwane metro in the upcoming elections.
"The nomination for mayoral candidacy demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the capacity of leadership at local level across the board," deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte told reporters on Monday.
"We are confident that, once elected by the people of Tshwane, she will continue to build on the solid foundation laid by comrade Kgosientso Ramokgopa and his collective over the last five years."
Didiza’s name was announced on Monday after the provincial executive committee (PEC) had rejected the initial names that were submitted. The party announced the names of all it mayoral candidates on Saturday, with Tshwane being the exception.
The PEC was, however, not convinced of the candidates and made representation to the national executive committee (NEC) to intervene. Duarte said the party prided itself on its robust system of internal democracy and, thus, any intervention that altered the outcome of a democratic process did not get taken lightly.
"It must also be noted that this is not the first time that the ANC has taken such a decision. National and provincial leadership agree on the intervention, and at a meeting held on Sunday, comrade Thoko Didiza was presented to the Regional Executive Committee for consideration as ANC mayoral candidate for the city of Tshwane. The intervention was unanimously accepted by the REC and, thus, comrade Thoko Didiza is the ANC mayoral candidate for the city," said Duarte.
She added that Didiza was a senior and seasoned leader of the ANC, with extensive experience in governance. Duarte also indicated that Ramokgopa’s name was not part of the list of names provided for the nomination.
"The ANC expresses it gratitude to comrade Ramokgopa, who is an extremely capable administrator and has led ably the capital city as its executive mayor. We have no doubt he will not be lost to the organisation," she said.
Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile called on members to accept the decision and to support Didiza. He added that Ramokgopa would continue as the current mayor until his term of office ended.
"He is also the regional chairperson of the ANC in Tshwane so he will be working with comrade Thoko Didiza. We want to say to our members that lets now focus on the coming campaign and focus on winning Tshwane. We have now closed the issue of candidates, mayors, we must now focus on winning the city,” he said.
Ramokgopa said the region was behind Didiza and they would work to ensure that the ANC retained the municipality.
"At the political level, we will ensure we provide the necessary infrastructure to allow here to thrive. Ultimately we want to serve the interests of the people of Tshwane and improve their quality of life and ensure we are able to restore their dignity. It is all hands on deck, the focus is on the campaign and the list processes are closed," said Ramokgopa.