/ 3 November 2017

Msimanga coy on Gauteng premier candidacy in 2019

Higher ambition? Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga says he wants to see out his term
DA leader John Steenhuisen announced that Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga would be its premier candidate for the 2024 provincial and national elections.

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga says he hopes the Democratic Alliance will allow him to complete his five-year term at the city’s helm, despite calls from within for him to stand as the party’s 2019 candidate for premier in the province.

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian this week, he was coy about his aspirations to be premier, saying: “I will let the party decide where I should go, but if I have my way I should continue to run as the city mayor.”

Msimanga said he preferred not to have his term interrupted by the 2019 elections. “I would really love to finish what I’ve started. I’m hoping to have the full five years running the city so that I can get to putting some of the things that we’ve wanted into practice,” he said.

“Whether the party then decides at some point that I need to run for the premier of Gauteng is something that is not top of my to-do list.”

The DA has set its sights on taking control of Gauteng in the 2019 national elections and decreasing the ANC’s support to below 50% nationally. Part of its strategy in the province includes increasing its volunteer base to at least 30 000 to allow for more door-to-door engagement.

Msimanga’s name has been mentioned along with Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana, Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi and current DA Gauteng leader John Moodey.

Moodey, however, indicated to the M&G that he had no intention of standing as premier and instead wanted to be involved in deciding the party’s strategic direction by running for another term as Gauteng leader at the party’s provincial elective congress on November 18. Moodey is going up against party newcomer and Ekurhuleni mayoral candidate Ghaleb Cachalia.

Although Msimanga refused to declare which candidate he would back for leader, he hinted at support for Moodey, saying the party needed experience to win Gauteng in 2019.

“We need to have somebody who understands the strategy and who’s got the battle scars to prove we can take this away from the ANC. We cannot rely on somebody who doesn’t have the experience or doesn’t understand the strategies that have been put in place to get us to this point,” Msimanga said.

As a DA representative in government, Msimanga is tasked with executing the DA’s pro-poor policies, which he said weren’t new but were only now being realised with the party’s increased power. He said the DA’s current trajectory was likely to cause an upset in the 2019 elections.

“People still think that we are dreaming, but we know we’re not and the ANC also knows that this is not a pipe dream anymore. They stand a huge chance of losing the biggest province,” he said.