/ 23 May 2024

DA leader Steenhuisen sees KZN as ‘wide open’ for coalition win

DA leader John Steenhuisen, with provincial DA leader Francois Rodgers in the background, during door-to-door campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. Photo: Democratic Alliance

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen believes KwaZulu-Natal is “wide open” and that his party will emerge as the head of a coalition in the province after the 29 May national and provincial elections.

Steenhuisen on Wednesday wrapped up his campaign in KwaZulu-Natal with a series of public meetings — and door-to-door visits — in key wards in the north and west of the eThekwini municipality.

Accompanied by DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers and premier candidate Chris Pappas, Steenhuisen first met people in Ntuzuma, which has a large party branch, before going door-to-door in the Reservoir Hills suburb.

Steenhuisen met residents who had been affected by high crime levels, electricity outages and interruptions to the water supply as well as business people from ward 43, which is controlled by the DA.

He said he believed KwaZulu-Natal was now a “wide open race” with the advent of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, which had “devoured” the ANC’s structure and support base.

Steenhuisen said this had created a “clear pathway” for the parties in the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa — a coalition of the DA, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and others — to “start to be able talk about forming a majority after the elections”.

He said no party in the province would take a clear majority in the elections and that there  “will be a coalition in KwaZulu-Natal”.

“I remain convinced that the DA will be a key part of any coalition that takes place,” he said, adding that “we are hoping to emerge as the largest party in the province”.

Strong party structures, increasing support and an “excellent” premier candidate in the form of Pappas gave the DA a “good chance” of replacing the ANC as the largest party in the province, he said, adding: “This is the first election in 30 years where the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. That should excite us all.”

The DA hoped to take sufficient votes in Durban to establish the party as a “core majority” in the province, where it was already polling between 18% and 22%, figures which he was “comfortable” with, Steenhuisen said.

A result above 20% would allow the party to approach any negotiations regarding building a coalition from a position of relative strength, and the DA saw this as a “growth election” in which it would build its share of the vote and its role post elections.

The DA and the IFP have taken a dozen wards off the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal by-elections since the November 2021 local government poll, and the parties hope to dislodge the governing party, which secured 55.47% of the vote in the province in 2019.

Steenhuisen said that although the campaign had been intense, there were still seven days to go and called on DA volunteers to keep on going until election day.

“We are in the home stretch now and there is a lot of work to be done on the ground,” he  said.

Pappas said the next week was about “making sure that everybody does get out on voting day”.

“The DA is good at elections. We are mobilising and ready to go,” he said.

“The prospects are looking good for the DA in KwaZulu-Natal. I am absolutely certain we will grow, absolutely certain there will be a coalition government after 29 May. We would like to be part of it and that is what we are working on.”

Pappas said he was “very glad that there has been peace in KwaZulu-Natal”, with no incidents of political violence or intolerance, and that the parties and their supporters had shown a “level of maturity”.