The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deliberating over a replacement for Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga should he step down to focus on the 2019 elections.
According to News24, at least four sources say Msimanga is on his way out, claiming that the upcoming polls would create an easy way to rid the city of the embattled mayor, who has lost favour with some in his caucus.
Makashule Gana, a DA member of the Gauteng legislature, is a firm favourite for some.
Msimanga’s running battles with Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola, over the GladAfrica scandal and reports of improper appointments, have given the ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters — which is in an informal relationship with the DA — ammunition to go after the mayor.
“Solly is a nice guy, but he picked his side. The people he sided with have been using him and now he’s stuck with no support. He has to go,” one DA caucus member said.
Both political parties have attempted motions of no confidence in Msimanga. The ANC is seeking to challenge September’s sitting and wants to have the motion nullified so it can be done via secret ballot.
Vote of confidence
Two members of the DA caucus say they knew talks were taking place but did not believe anyone from the caucus or the party’s regional leadership were involved in the talks.
A source close to the mayor said there was a plan to have Msimanga step down from his post in December.
But DA Gauteng leader John Moodey dismissed the talks as “a lot of speculation”.
“You know people are rumour mongers. I think it emanates from the original motion of no confidence against him and of course winning the vote again… this is more conjecture and speculation,” said Moodey.
“Definitely nothing like that on the cards,” he added.
However, in an interview with News24 last week, DA leader Mmusi Maimane confirmed that talks over whether Msimanga should step down were taking place, saying the party was “considering all options”.
Maimane — who was once a Gauteng premier candidate — shared his views on whether it would be ideal for Msimanga to step down or remain.
Gauteng has already been dubbed the battle ground for next year’s polls, with opposition parties seeking to weaken the ANC and have a greater share of the country’s economic hub.
“We considering all options,” said Maimane.
Explaining that the party recognised the role Msimanga played in the capital city, Maimane said it was a mistake to assume that he could not campaign while serving as mayor in Tshwane.
“It’s tantamount to saying the president can’t campaign come next year because he has a job to do, which is to run the country. He can also campaign and Solly can do that,” said Maimane.
But the DA leader, speaking of his own experience, said he believed there would come a time when Msimanga would have to pay more attention to his campaign for Gauteng premier.
“I think that’s a question of timing more than anything,” said Maimane.
“I have a view on the matter, having campaigned. I know the period closer to elections being declared will require much more focus and a much larger role in the campaign, but I think the organisation will manage how the process is taken forward,” he told News24.
The two caucus members however, had different views on who should replace Msimanga. One argued for someone from within the DA in Tshwane to be appointed, while another liked the idea of Gana taking over.
Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi’s was put forward as well. But, according to a senior member of the DA, there is a bid to convince the caucus and regional leaders in Tshwane to consider Gana as Msimang’s replacement.
“No! Gana is the one attempting to lobby people to support him. I don’t think it’s ideal having him coming to lead people in Tshwane,” the source said.
However, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe was more decisive.
Selfe, it is understood, asked Msimanga to consider stepping down when he was announced as the premier candidate for Gauteng.
Juggling two responsibilities at once
He said the ideal situation would see the mayor focus on one job, instead of juggling two responsibilities at once.
“There is no rush as far as we are concerned and when the time is right, it’s right. We will do these things when we ready,” explained Selfe.
He said the DA would not just announce a replacement, but would call for nominations to select a new leader for Tshwane.
When asked about the claims, Gana said he knew nothing.
“I have not been informed of plans to have Solly step down as mayor of Tshwane. Thus, the question of his replacement does not arise,” said Gana.
“I am part of Team One South Africa, responsible for Basic Services as we head to the 2019 elections, and I lead the campaign on the ground in Soweto. My focus is on winning more votes for the DA for us to win Gauteng,” he continued.
Msimanga was not available to respond to media queries. He was on leave, according to his spokesperson Sam Mgobozi. — News24