Gauteng DA has the premier jitters for 2019

2017-10-01 06:00
Tshwane Executive Mayor, Solly Msimanga, briefing the media on his one year in office. Picture: Samson Ratswana

Tshwane Executive Mayor, Solly Msimanga, briefing the media on his one year in office. Picture: Samson Ratswana

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Silent lobbying for positions has taken a new twist in the DA – with the name of Tshwane executive mayor Solly Msimanga being thrown into the hat as a possible strong contender to take over from John Moodey as Gauteng leader and eventually premier in 2019, should the ANC be ousted.

The party’s provincial congress, which takes place in less than two months, will see few surprises if any.

The real battle will play itself out next year when premier hopefuls start publicising their campaigns for the province’s top job.

The DA’s pick for the position of Ekurhuleni mayor during last year’s local government elections campaign, Ghaleb Cachalia, announced that he would also be contesting current Gauteng leader John Moodey in the November congress.

Moodey has indicated that he would be standing for re-election, but that he would not be standing for the position of premier if the time comes.

Names which have been touted for the premiership so far include former youth leader Makashule Gana, deputy federal chairperson Refiloe Nt’sekhe, Midvaal executive mayor Bongani Baloyi and Msimanga.

City Press understands that the so-called black caucus grouping within the DA had agreed to field one candidate for the premiership.

This understanding would be reneged on should both Gana and Msimanga avail themselves for the position.

“Solly and Gana won’t contest each other, it can’t happen. So far the conversation has been that Gana would be the choice given that Solly is still tied up with mayoral duties in Tshwane.

"Solly may be personally ambitious but it would be political suicide to campaign for premiership while running a municipality governed by a fragile coalition.

"You can’t have an absent mayor in a fragile coalition,” an insider in the caucus said.

There has also been talk that Msimanga was considering contesting Moodey for the position of leader. Those close to him say that would be an unlikely scenario.

“It wouldn’t make sense. Remember, in the DA you don’t need to hold a particular position – in this case provincial leader – in order to ascend to a position like premier, so it would be futile anyways. He would also be exposing himself to a revolt in Tshwane,” a source close to Msimanga said.

Msimanga, who is currently the provincial chairperson, told City Press this week that he does not plan on standing for re-election in that position.

He did not answer on whether or not he would be standing for any other position.

On the premiership, the mayor confirmed that he had been approached by a number of people already.

“Yes I have been approached by several people in this regard suggesting that I would be the best candidate for such a position.

"However, you can appreciate that I have been the mayor of the capital since the August 3 elections in 2016, and have been committed to stabilising a city that was mired in controversy, and where the former administration failed dismally to provide the services people so desperately need,” Msimanga commented.

“I have built a strong team here, who has worked with me to stabilise the capital and particularly its finances...

“Any decision taken will be carefully considered.

"In the main, those considerations will be about the residents of Tshwane, and will be done in consultation with the leadership of the DA and other relevant stakeholders ... There is still time...,” Msimanga added.

“[For now] we as a party are focused on how to best ensure the residents in our municipalities receive the best services we can provide for them.”

It is understood that support for Msimanga would come from some in the national leadership as well, who prefer him over his close friend Gana.

“Remember, in as much as the DA needs the black vote, the party has to maintain the white vote as well. Gana might be more palatable in the next cycle but for now, Msimanga makes the most sense.

"He has a platform in Tshwane, he is well liked by all sides. There is also the issue of who funders would prefer,” an insider said.

Read more on:    da  |  solly msimanga  |  john moodey

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