Western Cape MEC for economic opportunities Alan Winde outlasted his opponents in the battle for Democratic Alliance premier candidate.
Winde was described by one selection panelist who spoke to the Mail & Guardian as the “best experienced person”.
The DA’s process for premier candidate is rigorous. DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Wednesday that Winde had excelled in the selection panel’s requirement that each candidate present their vision for the Western Cape.
Winde said his presentation to the panel had focused on creating jobs.
He came out ahead of the other candidates — Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and MP David Maynier — because of his 10 years as an MEC and his years serving as chief whip in the provincial legislature while the DA was still the opposition. In total, he has been in leadership positions in the provincial legislature for 15 years.
Maimane’s entry into the race — reportedly at the 11th hour — led to tension in the party’s ranks. He withdrew his candidacy to replace Helen Zille soon afterward.
The job prospects of Madikizela will now be in Winde’s hands.
Madikizela was seen as a front runner for the top job. He has coveted the premiership job. He’s been an MEC for almost 10 years in the provincial legislature.
Members of the party’s black caucus in Cape Town say the caucus was formed partly to support Madikizela’s bid for the top job.
“My ambition was to become the premier and that ambition was unsuccessful,” Madikizela said on Wednesday.
“I will continue serving the party in whatever capacity that the next premier would see fit. But ultimately it’s his decision to choose his cabinet and I’ll abide by any decision that he takes.”
It was largely believed that Madikizela and Winde were the top contenders for the job, with Maynier left to play catch-up. But a member of the selection panel has divulged that Maynier scored more points than Madikizela.
The party’s selection panel for the Western Cape premier candidate comprises 10 members of its provincial executive and 10 members of the federal executive.
Winde scored 89 out of 100 points, Maynier 86, and Madikizela 84, said the panelist.
But already the DA is fielding disgruntled people who have taken to social media to accuse the party of missing an opportunity at transformation in its selection of Winde.
Madikizela’s focus now will be on uniting the party for the 2019 election run. He has come out to warn on Facebook that “we must not fall” for the “racists [who] will try to drive a wedge and divide us”.
He said those in the party who supported his candidature would be urged to support Winde.
“What is important is that I must provide that leadership. I must make them understand the importance of putting the party first. I know that some people are disappointed and it’s only human nature,” Madikizela told the M&G.
Winde has been dubbed the “jobs premier” by Maimane, who said Winde had reduced unemployment in the Western Cape to 14% below the national unemployment rate.
“No other person is more responsible for the economic growth and job creation that we’ve seen in this province than Alan. His track record is simple: 640 000 new jobs under his watch, benefiting every community, and particularly the unemployed and the poor,” the DA leader said.
Winde has already been endorsed by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Chamber president Janine Myburgh praised Winde for his economic policies.
“What we like about Winde is that he has stayed clear of the political scraps and concentrated on creating economic opportunities and jobs, and that is what we need,” Myburgh said.
“He was also remarkable for his ‘open door’ evenings in which he welcomed entrepreneurs and business people from all sectors of the economy. He is one of those rare politicians who spends more time listening to people than making speeches,” she added.
Speaking on the sidelines of the announcement event in Cape Town, Winde said his focus would be on jobs, healthcare, education and safety and security.
“We’ve now got the big ask: the  campaign. We want to grow our support in the province where we’ve had some issues in our main municipality, but it looks like it’s settled down,” Winde said.