The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Free State provincial leader Patricia Kopane will be the party’s candidate for premier in the 2019 elections.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane made the announcement on Tuesday morning, saying Kopane had dedicated 14 years of hard work to the party.
“I am confident that the candidate chosen to spearhead the DA’s effort to bring change to the Free State is up to this important task. Patricia Kopane is one of our party’s most humble leaders and a loyal servant of the people,” Maimane said.
Kopane, who is also the shadow minister of health, has been the DA leader in the Free State since 2012.
In his statement on Tuesday, Maimane said that the Free State needed to be saved from the “corruption” of the ANC and “the Gupta’s inside man in the Free State”, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule. Kopane, he said, would lead the DA’s campaign efforts in the Free State for change and improvement in the province.
“Under her leadership, the DA has grown in stature as official opposition in the legislature, and worked tirelessly at exposing the corruption and irregularities of the ANC government here,” Maimane said.
The DA leader said that even with Magashule out of the premier’s office — he was replaced by Sisi Ntombela in March 2018 — the Free State government would continue to suffer under the ANC leadership.
“That’s because Magashule wasn’t the cause of the rot here in the Free State. He was just an opportunistic symptom. The cause was, and continues to be, the ANC itself,” Maimane said.
Ntombela, who has had just a few months to win support for the ANC in a post-Magashule led Free State, has been criticised over her own close ties to the former controversial premier. She was also appointed premier after ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini rallied behind her. The ANC has struggled to contain factionalism in the province, after disgruntled members demanded that the party’s provincial elective conference be nullified.
The DA is now hinging part of its campaign in the Free State province on the failures of the ANC, declaring that voters should “vote for change”.
Kopane has also found herself embroiled in controversy in recent months.
It was a complaint that she made to the DA which led to Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille’s membership being terminated earlier this year. In her complaint, Kopane asked federal executive chairperson James Selfe to “advise” her on what action should be taken after De Lille made comments in a radio interview about resigning. The remarks De Lille made violated the DA’s constitution, Kopane had said.
Kopane is a member of the DA’s federal executive, federal legal commission and the party’s federal council.
The DA is expected to name its candidates for premier in Limpopo, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Northern Cape throughout the week.