Solly Msimanga. Picture: SUPPLIED
Solly Msimanga. Picture: SUPPLIED

The DA’s federal executive will this weekend decide who of nine contenders will be its candidate for premier of Gauteng.

An announcement on who the party will choose following a hotly contested race is expected to be made on Sunday.

Gauteng is likely to be a key battleground in the 2019 general election. The DA already runs the metros of Johannesburg and Tshwane through coalitions at local government level.

The province 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 election.

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

The most prominent candidates to lead the province, the single largest contributor to the country’s GDP, are Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga, Gauteng MPL Makashule Gana, MP Ghaleb Cachalia and national spokesperson Refiloe Nt’sheke.

The candidates were interviewed by the party’s selection panel almost a month ago. Msimanga is seen as a compromise candidate while Gana and Cachalia are on opposite sides of the DA’s ideological divide.

Gana said he was ready to go to the ground to campaign for the party regardless of the federal executive’s choice.

He said he believed the party would make a decision that would enhance the DA’s chances of winning Gauteng.

Cachalia said he had asked to see the scoring ascribed to the top-scored candidates, who they were, how they had been scored and what the weighting had been.

"I await with interest the results of the scoring and the deliberations by Fedex, and I am keen to see who will be chosen and how they have been chosen," Cachalia said.

Meanwhile, provincial leaders in the DA, such as Gauteng leader John Moodey and Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga, indicated last week that they would raise the issue of the party ditching BEE from its economic policy. The announcement by DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya led to a public fallout in the party, in which senior leaders contradicted one another on the party’s stance.