DA has the ‘big five’ metros in its sights

The Democratic Alliance has an ambitious “big five” plan for next year’s local government elections: it is targeting the municipalities of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Tlokwe, Nelson Mandela Bay and Cape Town – either for takeover or to increase its presence to such an extent that it will reduce the ANC’s power.

A large part of the party’s campaign resources will be dedicated to the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipalities, and the Potchefstroom-based Tlokwe local municipality in the North West.

The DA believes it stands a good chance of toppling the ANC in these councils.

The party also wants an increased majority in the Cape Town metro and the Midvaal local municipality. But the hunt is still on for popular faces to become mayoral candidates in these municipalities.

The DA’s chief executive officer, Paul Boughey, who also serves as the party’s national campaign manager, said choosing the right mayoral candidates had a big influence on election results.


“There will be a national message and then we will build campaigns around mayoral candidates, who are the face of the campaign,” he said.

Party structures are still debating whether party loyalty and long service should be considered as part of the criteria for selecting candidates, or whether outsiders should be brought in to become the face of the DA’s campaigns.

The party has announced that its Eastern Cape leader, Athol Trollip, will stand as mayoral candidate for the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.

On Friday next week, the party’s electoral college will make a decision on a Tshwane mayoral candidate.

This person will have to maintain the party’s existing support in the traditionally white areas of Pretoria and expand the DA’s presence to the townships.

The party believes that electoral data from the past local government elections coupled with the voting patterns during last year’s general elections make Tshwane winnable.

In the 2011 local government elections, the DA won 39.05% of the vote in Tshwane – up 9% from 2006 – and the ANC garnered 56.19% of the vote. Last year, the ANC’s support in Tshwane fell to 49.31%, a significant drop of 10% compared with the 2009 elections.

The DA’s Gauteng leader, John Moodey, said the party needed in Tshwane “a person with leadership skills, who can articulate DA policy and vision and a person who will be able to galvanise local structures”.

Realistically, what are the DA’s chances?

“We don’t go into the boxing ring to come out second best,” said Moodey.

Though the DA has increased its support in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, there is still a deficit of trust among black voters, which might make it difficult to significantly increase the party’s support in townships and villages.

But the DA has been working hard to shed the image of a white organisation wanting to use a black majority to govern, and is pinning its hopes on its first black party leader, Mmusi Maimane. However, leadership squabbles that preceded Maimane’s election both as parliamentary and party leader did stabilise the party’s credibility.

The frontrunner for the mayoral candidacy in Tshwane is Solly Msimanga, a member of the Gauteng provincial legislature, who enjoys some support in Pretoria’s townships.

But before a street fight with the ANC, Msimanga needs to convince the DA’s electoral college that he is the right man for the job.

On Friday next week, he will appear before the electoral college with two other DA councillors and prospective candidates, Brandon Topham and Bronwyn Engelbrecht.

Mayoral candidacy campaigns have often been used as launching pads for political growth in the DA.

In 2011, Maimane, who was a relative unknown even in party structures, was the mayoral candidate for Johannesburg.

He then ran as the candidate for Gauteng premier in 2014, and was subsequently elected DA parliamentary leader. In May this year, he replaced Helen Zille in the top seat.

Electoral analyst Paul Berkowitz said, because identity politics was important in South Africa, it would be important to choose a candidate who would penetrate even nontraditional DA support bases. He said there was a limit to the traditional support base the party enjoyed in the municipalities.

He did not think the Economic Freedom Fighters’ presence would affect the DA significantly. 

“The EFF would take votes from the ANC and other smaller parties; the DA would take its votes from the ANC,” said Berkowitz.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Editorial: Desperately seeking an opposition

All the contenders are deeply flawed, losing support, or both

A litmus test for the 2021 election

In this week’s 96 by-elections, the trend was the ANC held its ground and grew, while the DA lost big, with minority parties eating into its voter base

With 79% of votes, Steenhuisen is elected DA leader

It was a landslide victory for John Steenhuisen, who thanked his family and opponent Mbali Ntuli before characteristically tearing into the ANC-led government for its anti-liberal policies, numerous failures, megalomania, and rampant corruption.

‘Battle-tested’ vs ‘kind and fair’ — DA candidates’ last push

John Steenhuisen and Mbali Ntuli both acknowledged the problems faced by the party over the past year, with each of them offering their own leadership vision.

‘Veteran’s stripes’ vs ‘kind and fair’

This weekend the Democratic Alliance will choose between two starkly different visions for its future

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…