Metro man: Mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga has thrown his hat into the ring for DA premier candidate in the 2019 national elections. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF/SUNDAY TIMES
Metro man: Mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga has thrown his hat into the ring for DA premier candidate in the 2019 national elections. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF/SUNDAY TIMES

Candidates in the hotly contested race to represent the DA in election of the Gauteng premier will face the party’s 20-person selection panel on Friday.

The premier candidate hopefuls will have to motivate why they should be the ones to lead the DA’s attempt to govern SA’s economic hub in 2019.

The opposition party, which runs only the Western Cape, has targeted Gauteng and the Northern Cape as provinces they also want to govern after the national elections.

Currently, the party leads coalitions that run the Tshwane and Johannesburg metro councils in Gauteng.

Gauteng could possibly end up being governed by a coalition in 2019 if the ANC loses support at the same rate it did in the 2014 national elections.

The governing party garnered 53.59%, which was less than the 64.04% support it enjoyed in 2009. The DA got 30.78% of the votes, up from the 21.86% it received in 2009.

Out of the nine candidates who applied for the position, the candidate selected would have to be able to lead the province that is the single largest contributor to SA’s GDP.

The most prominent of the nine candidates who applied are Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, Gauteng MPLs Makashule Gana and Ghaleb Cachalia and national spokeswoman Refiloe Nt’sheke.

Two-horse race

However, a senior DA leader said it was looking to be a two-horse race between Gana and Msimanga, as most of the support in the DA in Gauteng was behind the two men.

Msimanga has the strongest public profile of all the candidates and almost two years’ experience in government.

Gana, who has campaigned for the candidacy over the past three months and has single-handedly driven his own campaign, has made no secret of his belief that he would be the right person to lead Gauteng, saying that he looked forward to working with Msimanga and Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba when he became premier of Gauteng.

He had indicated in an interview with Business Day that Msimanga had given him an undertaking that he would not compete against him.

Cachalia, who has support from the so-called traditional liberal grouping in the party, said on Thursday he believed he was the right man for the job.

Cachalia said he hoped the scoring of candidates would be robust and "that the best candidate will emerge".