Stevens Mokgalapa is set to replace Solly Msimanga as the mayor of Tshwane. Picture:: FACEBOOK/STEVEN MOKGALAPA
Stevens Mokgalapa is set to replace Solly Msimanga as the mayor of Tshwane. Picture:: FACEBOOK/STEVEN MOKGALAPA

Stevens Mokgalapa will have to unite a divided DA caucus if he is elected as mayor of Tshwane, after his party put him forward to take the reins from Solly Msimanga.

The DA on Sunday announced Mokgalapa as its candidate to succeed Msimanga, who will have been in the job for almost two and a half years when his resignation kicks in on February 11. He resigned to focus on his campaign to be the DA premier in Gauteng, a province in which the  official opposition party hopes to push the ANC below 50% support in the upcoming national and provincial elections.

The metro has seen its fair share of crises over the past year: tension between Msimanga and city manager Moeketsi Mosola escalated to the point where it affected service delivery in Tshwane as a battle over procurement irregularities raged.

Now Mokgalapa, who was a councillor in the metro for nine years, believes the caucus must come together and pull in one direction in the interest of the people in Tshwane.

However, unlike candidates he beat for the post, including the speaker, Katlego Mathebe, Mokgalapa is not a part of the DA caucus at present; he is an MP in the National Assembly and the party’s spokesperson on international affairs. 

“My task would be to unite the caucus towards a common purpose, to understand as a governing party what are we here for,” Mokgalapa said in an interview on Sunday.

Mokgalapa said the most important focus is the people of Tshwane, and ensuring service delivery is unlocked. “Service delivery has been on the back foot for a couple of months now,” he said.

He added that the issues surrounding Mosola, who Msimanga twice tried to suspend, must be resolved  to bring confidence back into the administration.

All eyes will be on the EFF now that the DA has decided on its candidate in Tshwane. The party received 11.7% support in the metro in the 2016 local government election, and acts as the kingmaker in the council.

The DA received 43.11% of the vote — the most of any party.  But the party and its official coalition partners, the Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party and Congress of the People, did not have sufficient numbers to elect a mayor and take control of the government without the EFF’s vote.

However, relations between the EFF and the DA have soured in the metro over the past year. The EFF tabled a motion of no-confidence against Msimanga and  took issue with how Mosola, who has been accused of being involved in procurement irregularities, has been treated by the DA.  

Mokgalapa said the DA would have discussions with the EFF and hopes to find common ground on issues in the metro.  He said the party’s offer to the EFF was to “put the people of Tshwane first”, and bring in a credible government. He also urged the EFF to “respect democracy” —  referring to the DA  receiving the  most votes in the metro — and said he believed the red berets would not want to give the city back to the ANC.

However, the EFF has ambitions of its own. City Press reported this weekend that party leader Julius Malema said the EFF  would be the new governing party in Tshwane come June, shortly after the national elections which are expected to take place in May.