The DA’s catastrophic performance at the polls has instigated the race for a new provincial leader in Gauteng with the names of Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi and former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga being touted for the top job.
Msimanga drew first blood this week when he successfully contested provincial leader John Moodey for the job of caucus leader in the legislature with 11 votes to nine.
City Press understands that Msimanga, who was the party’s premier candidate for Gauteng, began lobbying for the position earlier this week.
Following last week’s polls the party failed in its objective to run the province through a coalition mustering only 27% of the vote, 3% less than it managed in 2014.
Nationally the party also had a poor show, losing about 400 000 votes.
Members of the provincial executive committee told City Press that, following the harrowing loss, the party had to reassess its position, starting with new leadership when the province holds an elective congress next year.
“It’s painfully obvious that John’s time is done now; he has no chance of returning. I doubt he would fight it as well. He did well for the party but he is older and it makes sense for him to take on a less demanding role,” one provincial executive committee (PEC) member said.
The PEC met on Friday to take stock of the election campaign following the announcement that Msimanga would lead caucus alongside Makashule Gana – who lost out on the bid to be the party’s premier candidate. Gama will serve as chairperson and Mike Moriarty will be the chief whip.
Msimanga, who was forced to resign from Tshwane after a series of controversies, said this week that as the premier candidate it was “only fair” to “avail” himself for the position of the legislature.
“I don’t think John or anyone would be to blame for what happened. That is not why I contested him; he played his part and did what needed to be done. You then look at what happens and obviously both of us had to sell a vision of what we saw our role in the legislature as being and that is where we are,” Msimanga said.
Both Msimanga and Baloyi played their cards close to their chests this week when asked about their future plans with neither ruling out that they would go for the top provincial job.
“My focus now is on making things work in the legislature. Whatever happens at that congress will happen; we will assess at that time who is standing and if it is someone I can support or stand against, so let us see at that point,” Msimanga said.
Baloyi said: “It is too early after these gruelling elections. We must focus on our internal introspection to understand fully our electoral misfortunes and strengthen our party structures. At the appropriate time I will apply my mind.”
On his role in the DA’s electoral outcomes, Msimanga said he was confident that he did his best.
“I think the campaign went well, what has happened is that issues from before and particularly last year had an effect on us.
“Things like the messaging around the Patricia de Lille matter and then the handling of Schweizer-Reneke. There were people who latched on to that thing and made it into something that it wasn’t but I think we must move on from that,” Msimanga said.
“I gave it my all. I won’t push my own agenda though, but I think I put more hours into it than anybody else and I can comfortably say I gave it my all.”
Moodey said “this is still very early days after a gruelling election. I have at least another six months in this term of office. I haven’t given it any thought as yet. When the time comes, I will consult with my constituents (supporters) and take it from there”.