DA: We can take Tshwane

Councillor Brandon Topham (right) is among the three DA mayoral nominees. (Gallo)

Councillor Brandon Topham (right) is among the three DA mayoral nominees. (Gallo)

The Democratic Alliance believes its support base in Tshwane is bulging, enabling the official opposition to dislodge the ANC-led administration running the capital city, the party’s Gauteng North regional chairperson Fred Nel said on Wednesday.

“The ANC’s support has dwindled in the city and our support has increased, quite considerably, over the last two or three local government elections. We believe that there is a realistic chance that we can win it and that we can build a city that creates jobs. We can turn around the management of the city,” Nel said.

“We are quite excited at the prospect of starting our campaign.
We cannot wait to announce our mayoral candidate for next year [local government elections]. We want people to see who will be the face of the DA in the city.”

On Wednesday, the DA announced three nominees for Tshwane mayoral candidature. Councillor Brandon Topham (44), Solly Msimanga (35) and Bronwyn Engelbrecht (54) will be interviewed by the party’s electoral college on Friday. The college is made up of representatives from the regional, provincial and federal structures of the party. DA leader Mmusi Maimane will also be on the interview panel.

Topham: ‘We will recover money’ 
Topham is the party’s spokesperson on municipal public accounts in the Tshwane municipal council. He was the DA mayoral candidate in the 2011 local government elections.

“I’m a forensic accountant by specialisation. I specialise in finding fraud and corruption. There’s no doubt that there is a lot of corruption that exists even when we take over. We will go into extreme detail into eradicating that corruption. We will do forensic audits of certain suspicious contracts in the city. We will recover money from people who have stolen from the public,” said Topham.

“If you look at our track record in the Western [Cape] province, where we find corruption, we don’t give the guy a sideways promotion. The guy gets kicked out and proper legal processes take place. Corruption and inefficiency go hand in hand. It is probably the fundamental problem holding back service delivery in our city.”

The father of three said he believes this time around, Tshwane will be turned blue.

Msimanga: ‘Building relationships’
DA Gauteng provincial chairperson Msimanga, who is a member of the Gauteng provincial legislature, said his experience at different spheres of government puts him in good stead to be the face of the party.

“I’ve worked at local level and now I am working at a provincial level. I think the advantage is that I am bringing along those relationships that are going to be crucial when we are governing. We are working on building those relationships and making sure that those relationships can be leveraged to make sure that service delivery does take place in the city,” said Msimanga.

“Having had the opportunity to work at different levels of government exposes one to how government operates, at different levels. It is something I believe I’m coming with. I have also proven my worth in terms of being able to go into communities we had not been able to go into and to galvanise support. Even in the traditional DA areas, I was able to go into those areas and ensure that we maximise support.”

Msimanga said Tshwane’s procurement processes needed radical change.

“Why is there secrecy? Why are tender processes done in dark offices and dark corners? One of the things we will make sure is to strengthen the financial checks and balances,” said the father of two.

Engelbrecht: ‘You have to listen’
Pharmacist Engelbrecht said her secret weapon was the ability to listen.

“I am coming from a profession where I’m used to listening to people. You have to listen very carefully before you can diagnose or recommend medication to a patient. I come from a caring environment. Being a woman gives me a different edge to the men. It gives me a feminine touch, being in touch with social issues and that is probably the biggest problem for this city,” she said.

“We need to start caring for each other. Responsibility should not only be on the municipality, but every person in the city. Each resident must pick up the piece of paper outside their front door. Everyone needs to take ownership of their life. We need to start knowing each other. That is the stuff I am very passionate about.”

Engelbrecht, who serves on the municipal public accounts committee, said the city was in a state of “disaster”.

“We have to go out there and find money. We need to put metro police on to the street. We need to triple the metro police [numbers]. We need to start cleaning the city and its parks. We need to start cutting the grass. We need to create shelters around the city,” said the mother of four.

In 2011 local government elections, the DA won 39% of the vote in Tshwane, up from 9% in 2006. The ANC garnered 56% of the vote. – ANA

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