Msimanga is DA’s pick for Gauteng

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga has emerged as the DA’s choice to drive the 2019 election campaign as its Gauteng premier candidate.

Eliminating the likes of close ally Makashule Gana, 2016 Ekurhuleni mayoral candidate Ghaleb Cachalia and others, the federal executive rubber-stamped a recommendation by the Gauteng selection panel to make Msimanga the face of the party in the coveted province.

Msimanga told City Press yesterday that he was not abandoning his caucus in the capital city, but responding to a call made by the party for him to represent it in the highest office in the province, should the DA manage to unseat the ANC next year.

“I am not abandoning caucus. If you are being called to lead or to lead a campaign and you go through the process of application and all the technical issues that need to be taken into consideration, and at the end the party decides that you are best placed to lead a campaign, that cannot be seen as being power hungry.

“The fact of the matter is that I come with a track record, which the party will want to use,” Msimanga said moments after being informed that he was the chosen one.

City Press reported last year that senior leaders in the party had approached Msimanga to stand for the position. Msimanga also allegedly told those close to him that he had been informed that he polled the highest of all the candidates in the running, indicating that he was the party’s best prospect of success.

There were concerns in the province that Msimanga would be leaving Tshwane vulnerable by taking up the provincial campaign, which would keep him outside of the city and running around the province. It will now be up to the DA’s top leadership to appoint a caretaker mayor to run the capital city in Msimanga’s absence. The name of the person will be announced late next month before the party officially launches its election campaign on 22 September in Newtown, Johannesburg.

Msimanga must also contend with tension between himself and some DA members in Tshwane who have been calling for him to “fall”.

The mayor told City Press yesterday that those members were disgruntled because they had not been given jobs.

“You need to ask yourself, who are those people? With a growing party, you tend to attract people who were used to doing things in other political parties. There are people who think once they are members they will get jobs,” he said.

Msimanga has also had to deal with a series of blunders this year over appointing unqualified candidates for jobs in his mayoral office, but despite this, he argued that people still had confidence in him and that in future he would “do better”.

He also said that the party needed to communicate its position on crucial matters more effectively. City Press understands that provincial leaders “lambasted” members of parliament, as well as head of policy Gwen Ngwenya, for misrepresenting the party position on its BBBEE policy on social media in recent weeks, proclaiming that the party had abandoned its standing position.

The BBBEE saga came just as the party reached a settlement with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille following a protracted legal battle which battered public perception of the party.

Campaign manager Jonathan Moakes said yesterday that the party would now focus its energies on the upcoming elections with the aim of winning Gauteng outright as first prize and governing through a coalition as second prize.

Moakes said that internal polls still indicated that the party stood a good chance of winning Gauteng, which would make it the second DA-governed province after the Western Cape.