No DA mayoral candidate in Durban
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Durban: THE DA will not put up a mayoral candidate as a face of its campaign in the eThekwini Municipality in the upcoming local government elections.
Instead, the official opposition said it will focus on its attention of “vulnerable” wards in its quest to growing its support base in Durban. The party acknowledged that taking the whole municipality would be a bonus, adding that it would focus its attention on bringing down the number of wards under the control of the ANC. The party said it has identified a number of wards it feels are within its grasp.
The announcement has received mixed reaction from political analysts. While some political observers described the decision as contrary to public sentiments that the party should announce its mayoral candidate before the election, others said it was an astute move that would allow the DA to carefully tread fragile race relations in the city.
The party’s statement on the matter said metros, like Buffalo City (East London), Mangaung (Bloemfontein) and eThekwini (Durban), adopted a different approach to the rest of the country.
“Considering the political dynamics in eThekwini, we are focused on a ward-based strategy to field and profile councillors who the electorate will be directly voting for. This ties into our recently adopted campaign to unite, rebuild and protect communities after the recent unrest which is being led by our councillors and candidates. With the strong emergence of ANC breakaway independents, this is even more crucial to build on the 10 extra wards we won in 2016,” it said.
The party’s provincial leader, François Rodgers told The Mercury that this time around, they were focused on taking more wards from the ANC.
“We put up a candidate in the last local government elections and that did not bring us the results that we wanted. Other parties like the ANC and the IFP have also not put up a candidate, I do not think voters in eThekwini are swayed by the candidate, but it’s the party,” he said.
Rodgers said their focus for this year would be to take more wards from the ANC. “If we can bring the ANC under 50% then we will consider having a coalition with a like-minded party.
“We are working hard in about 80% of the wards, there are several wards that we are investing a lot of energy in because they are within reach, these are wards where ANC councillors have been ’missing’ and there have been a lot of complaints about service delivery,” he said.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the DA was going in the wrong direction. “There has been a lot of outcry for parties to reveal their candidates beforehand so the people know what they are getting.”
He said there was a tendency for parties hold on to these names and release them after the votes. “Many of these people appointed as mayors are unqualified, and the community learns after voting that they are getting a person they never thought would assume the position of being mayor.”
Another political analyst Xolani Dube said the DA was being strategic in not putting up a candidate due to the fragile nature of racial relations in Durban. He said putting a candidate could undermine its ability to attract votes across all races.
He said the strategy of focussing on wards was also the right one, saying the ANC was unlikely to hold on to eThekwini.
“There is the EFF, the ActionSA, the IFP, the smaller parties and a number of independent candidates and all these could chip away at the ANC power and the municipality might be governed via a coalition after the election,” he said.