DA supporters. Picture: ALON SKUY
DA supporters. Picture: ALON SKUY

Gauteng is the DA’s most contested province, as nine candidates vie to become the face of the party’s 2019 ambitions of installing a DA premier in SA’s economic heart.

The party has identified Gauteng and the Northern Cape as strategic provinces in which it wants to grow its support and govern with DA premiers after the national elections, in addition to maintaining the Western Cape and growing its majority in its electoral stronghold.

Applications for the premier positions in the nine provinces closed on Friday. The names of hopefuls who threw their names into the hat were released on Sunday by federal executive chairman James Selfe. The premiership candidatures, for which 31 applications for all nine provinces were received, will now be selected by panels comprising members of the federal executive and the provincial executives.

The name of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga was one of the surprises among applications for Gauteng that also included national spokeswoman Refiloe Nt’sekhe. DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia applied for the position, as expected, while Tshwane speaker Rachel Katlego Mathebe is also competing for the coveted candidacy with Wendy Alexander, Sandy Kgaogelo Mbuvha, Johannes Page and Karabo Tledima.

A senior DA leader said that despite the long list of candidates for the Gauteng premiership it would effectively be a two-horse race between Msimanga and Makashule Gana, who was first out of the campaigning blocks.

Msimanga, who lost out to Athol Trollip for the DA’s chairmanship in April, attended Gana’s announcement in the same month in which he officially indicated that he would be standing for the candidacy.

A complication is that Tshwane’s mayor and speaker — Msimanga and Mathebe, respectively — are contending for the same position.

When approached for comment, Gana said his campaign was proceeding and he had received a lot of support. He said it was free for anyone to stand and that he was "ready for each one of them".

In the Western Cape, the second most contested province, seven hopefuls have submitted their names to replace Helen Zille, whose two terms in office end after the elections.

Among those seeking the prized office are Western Cape provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde and MP David Maynier.

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