A two-horse DA Gaut­eng duel hots up

Cur­rent pro­vin­cial leader John Moody squares up with Ekurhu­leni’s Ghaleb Cachalia for a top spot

Mail & Guardian - - News - Di­neo Bendile

The two-horse race for the lead­er­ship of the Demo­cratic Al­liance in Gaut­eng has be­gun as the party searches for a leader to rep­re­sent its 2019 elec­tion am­bi­tion of tak­ing con­trol of the province.

The con­test is be­tween cur­rent DA Gaut­eng leader John Moodey and the party’s Ekurhu­leni may­oral can­di­date Ghaleb Cachalia.

This week both Moodey and Cachalia started their open cam­paign­ing, un­veil­ing dig­i­tal posters, so­cial me­dia hash­tags and re­ceiv­ing open pledges of sup­port from DA mem­bers.

So far Moodey has emerged as a clear favourite, pulling the sup­port of prom­i­nent party mem­bers such as Gaut­eng MPL Makashule Gana and West­ern Cape fi­nance MEC Ivan Meyer.

He has also re­ceived the back­ing of newly elected re­gional lead­ers. Tsh­wane’s new re­gional chair Abel Tau and Vaal chair­per­son Bon­gani Baloyi both pledged their sup­port for Moodey this week.

They are likely to bring him the num­bers needed to help se­cure an­other term at the province’s helm.

Speak­ing to the Mail & Guardian this week, Moodey said sup­port was not some­thing he was wor­ried about and ex­pressed con­fi­dence that he was a favourite across the province.

“That’s the thing, my sup­port is across the province. I don’t just have one or two re­gions where I have sup­port. Across every branch, quite frankly, I have sup­port,” he said.

Moodey has been Gaut­eng leader of the DA since 2012, pre­vi­ously serv­ing as the party’s pro­vin­cial chair­per­son. He led the province dur­ing the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion when the DA caused its big­gest up­set in Gaut­eng, tak­ing con­trol of the Tsh­wane and Jo­han­nes­burg met­ros as well as the Mo­gale City mu­nic­i­pal­ity. He said his in­volve­ment in chang­ing the per­cep­tion of the DA as a white party and craft­ing the strat­egy to re­duce the ANC’s sup­port in 2019 would work in his favour.

“It’s some­thing we’ve worked on from as early as 2006. And see­ing that strat­egy and vi­sion come to fruition is why I be­lieve I have what it takes. I’m tried and tested … I’ve de­liv­ered on my prom­ises,” he said.

Cachalia is a rel­a­tive new­comer to the DA. The son of lib­er­a­tion heroes Amina and Yusuf Cachalia, he left the ANC in the run-up to the 2016 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions to join the DA, which chose him as its Ekurhu­leni may­oral can­di­date.

Cachalia be­lieved him­self to be the fresh al­ter­na­tive that the DA needed.

“If we con­tinue do­ing the same thing, in the same way and ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent re­sult then I think we are not go­ing to achieve what we hope to achieve [in 2019]. I re­spect my op­po­nent and I re­spect my col­leagues in the DA, but I hon­estly be­lieve that I bring a very fresh al­ter­na­tive.”

“My em­pha­sis is a lib­eral em­pha­sis. It’s an em­pha­sis on free­dom of speech, deal­ing with racism in a pro­duc­tive and in­clu­sive man­ner. And it’s a fo­cus on the econ­omy … in grow­ing jobs,” he added.

Un­like Moodey, Cachalia seemed less cer­tain about where sup­port for his cam­paign would come from, but be­lieved he would re­ceive the back­ing of his con­stituency in Ekurhu­leni. So far he has re­ceived the back­ing of Gaut­eng MPL and po­lit­i­cal head in Ekurhu­leni, Gra­ham Gers­bach.

The DA has now fully en­tered its con­gress sea­son, which started in Oc­to­ber with the elec­tion of Bonginkosi

Madik­izela as

West­ern

Cape leader. Since then Lim­popo has also held its con­fer­ence where it re-elected Jac­ques Smalle as its leader.

The Gaut­eng con­gress, which will be at­tended by 2000 del­e­gates, is cru­cial for the party be­cause it will elect a leader who will have to de­liver the most cov­eted province to the DA’s con­trol.

The DA’s plans to in­crease sup­port in Gaut­eng ahead of 2019 in­volves in­creas­ing it vol­un­teer base to no less than 30000 peo­ple, in or­der to ef­fec­tively ex­e­cute door-to-door vis­its in com­mu­ni­ties. The party is par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on in­creas­ing sup­port and strength­en­ing struc­tures in the province’s town­ships.

Though Moodey has more than 10 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in a key lead­er­ship position in the party, he was also pro­vin­cial leader dur­ing the pe­riod when the DA-led coali­tion in Mo­gale City col­lapsed and coun­cil­lors were forced to un­dergo lie-de­tec­tor tests fol­low­ing sus­pi­cions that one of them may have voted with the op­po­si­tion.

Moodey be­lieved what hap­pened in Mo­gale City would not harm his cam­paign, but rather equip him with the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence to form sta­ble coali­tions af­ter 2019.

Moodey has re­peat­edly said he has no in­ter­est in be­com­ing pre­mier. He be­lieves be­ing party leader would al­low him to in­flu­ence the po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tion of the party.

“A per­son needs to be able to tell [the party] how do we form coali­tion gov­ern­ments mov­ing for­ward and I think that is where my ex­pe­ri­ence gained over the last year and odd months will def­i­nitely bear fruit and help us mov­ing for­ward in coali­tions af­ter 2019,” he said.

Cachalia’s odds of tak­ing over as pro­vin­cial leader were at risk of be­ing com­pro­mised by his sta­tus as a new­comer, at a point when the party had al­ready started im­ple­ment­ing its Change19 strat­egy, which Moodey was in­volved in shap­ing. “My new­ness has got enor­mous pos­i­tiv­ity. I will part­ner with peo­ple who have got in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge and to­gether we will drive the agenda for­ward in the best way pos­si­ble,” said Cachalia.

Chal­lenger: Ghaleb Cachalia says his “new­ness” is pos­i­tive

Fron­trun­ner: John Moodey, cur­rent leader of the Demo­cratic Al­liance in Gaut­eng, says he has sup­port from ‘across every branch’ in the province and has de­liv­ered on his prom­ises. Photo: Paul Botes

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