DA’s Gauteng mayoral race

The DA’s mayoral race in Cape Town hasn’t been pretty to watch. There has been little thought geared towards transformation and there was the furore over Bonginkosi Madikizela’s fake qualifications. But the Gauteng race is looking a lot more interesting – and racially representative. 

In Tshwane Sylvester Phokoje is challenging the incumbent, Randall Williams, who is a favourite of the party. What has been nice to watch is both stating that they’re friendly and wishing each other the best of luck. If only all politics was so polite. 😊

In Johannesburg, Leah Knott is going up against Mpho Phalatse. Knott is the former MMC, which is sort of like a city minister, for economic development. She has a background in community activism and as a legal professional. Party insiders say she already has the support of the interviewing panel, City Press reported. Phalatse joined the DA in 2015 and served under former mayor Herman Mashaba’s administration. 

The DA does things differently from the ANC when it comes to mayors. Candidates are interviewed by a panel and the names of those who will represent the party in each metro ahead of local government elections are announced. Elections are set for this October. Before 2016 this approach was largely wishful thinking on the DA’s part as it was unlikely to win outside of Cape Town. 

But that all shifted in 2016 when the party scored major metros in coalitions, putting several of its mayors in power. Most of those alliances fell apart, though. It will be interesting to watch how the DA performs this time round but indications from recent byelection results – local ward elections that happen between major elections – don’t look promising. It increasingly seems the party has alienated many voters of colour with its swing to the right at a national level. Local candidates, no matter how deserving, may be punished for it. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates