It's not about my feelings - Didiza

Thoko Didiza (News24)
Thoko Didiza (News24)

Johannesburg - The ANC's Tshwane mayoral candidate, Thoko Didiza, says leadership involves rising above difficult situations, and has nothing to do with feelings.

Speaking out for the first time since the ANC's controversial announcement of her as its mayoral candidate four days ago, Didiza on Thursday said the violence, in which five people have died so far, was sad.

"Surely I must say it, is sad that our communities, no matter at what level of disgruntlement, can engage in acts of violence, and I hope that going forward we will be able to find a way to work together with leaders in our community to find strategies of resolving conflicts without destroying the very assets that will actually benefit our communities."

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Asked how she felt about the hostility from branches and members, she said: "I'm not sure whether it's an issue of one's feeling, as I said that I'm actually a resident of Tshwane. I don't feel foreign and, therefore, there is no way that I can feel aggrieved.

"Obviously, in public office when people have got some little issues, sometimes they will say things that are out of turn, but one of the functions of leadership is to be ready to rise above this and work with communities," she said.

Didiza said she has been working in the ANC's national executive committee (to which she was elected in 2012), "and that remains the centre. So what one executes is what people would have voted for in the manifesto of the ANC", she said.

'Bread and butter issues'

Didiza - who is House chairperson in Parliament and a former Cabinet minister - also thanked the ANC for giving her the opportunity to serve people at local government level. "I have worked in many capacities, but this is a new and a challenging one."

Addressing allegations that she was an outsider, the KwaZulu-Natal-born Didiza said: "I also want to thank the people of Tshwane who, when I came to that city, embraced me as their child. I never, and I still don't, feel foreign in Tshwane, even with the latest incidents which I don't think reflect the feelings of the community of Tshwane.

"I don't feel in any way alienated, I feel part of the community of Tshwane."

She said, if elected, she would build on the successes of her predecessors, including those of current Mayor Kgosientso "Sputla" Ramokgopa.

ANC deployee to Tshwane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, said the issue of tribalism was a red herring and not something they had picked up on the ground.

He said they had been told by a prominent community leader that people were concerned about "bread and butter" issues and feared that if Ramokgopa left they would "lose jobs and certain things that they get from the municipality". Their fears were unjustified he said.

Didiza was expected to do a tour of Tshwane on Thursday afternoon to look at the work that had been done there so far. 

WATCH: I have never felt like an alien - Didiza

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