DA Gauteng leader licks wounds after bruising battle
RE-ELECTED Democratic Alliance leader in Gauteng John Moodey is licking his wounds and moving on from the bruising contest for the position and plots to to wrestle power from the ANC.
Moodey managed to hold on to his position during the party’s provincial congress held over the weekend in Midrand, pipping challenger Ghaleb Cachalia to the post.
In an interview with African Times, Moodey expressed disappointment in the campaign processes leading to the congress and the underhand tactics used to discredit him. He said despite this not being his first contestation, he was taken aback by the smear campaigns he had to endure.
“This is my fourth time contesting and electioneering is extremely robust. A person would expect sometimes that there would be a bit of overstepping of boundaries but I will admit that I’m fairly disappointed in the way the campaign actually turned out. I have bore the brunt of accusations and attempts to discredit me and my leadership. But I know who I am and what I stand for and why I’m involved in the Democratic Alliance. I stuck to my principles and its unfortunate that some of the things stated were without any basis or foundation,” he said.
Moodey added that despite the hostile environment that was created, he held no grudges. He said his immediate attention was turning to mending and healing the scars and moving on.
“I’m looking at personal scars because of those attacks on my integrity but I’m a matured politician and understand that such things happen. I won’t be holding any grudges against anybody. I just take it as a matured person because some of the things said and uttered were done at the heat of a campaign. I have to live with it, it happens in politics,” Moodey said.
He dispelled the notion that the party was divided in the province and that grounds leading to the conference highlighted the divisions that exist. He however admitted that there was a need to unite the movement in the province. Moodey said he took the robustness of the campaign trail on the chin and there was no animosity between himself and Cachalia.
“I don’t believe we have a divided province to be honest. People voted according to their preferences. There was absolutely no animosity of the rank and file. By far and large I must indicate that there wasn’t real animosity between us as contestants. What I’m talking about here (unity) is more the campaign teams because it did become personal. People’s emotions went high and there are some scars that need to heal for all those who were involved in both camps. More than anything else, the building of unity and camaraderie will happen. The rank and file, the delegates, I believe they came to vote for their preferred candidates and its done. There was no fighting that happened on the floor, throwing of chairs or verbal abuse. That shows the contestation was mature and robust,” said Moodey.
The two were at serious loggerheads leading to the conference. A party’s internal report on membership irregularities was leaked and Cachalia’s camp was said to have been behind it but He denied it. He countered by telling Moodey to take responsibility for the crisis.
The tension between the two was also evident during the conference with delegates booing Cachalia off the stage during his address and chanting slogans of support for Moodey.
In down playing the situation, Moodey said he saw people from the same branches wearing T-shirts for different candidates eating at the same table and that indicated tolerance and that there was no bad blood amongst delegates.
“Its not as if we are enemies. There was contestation, there was sharing of views on candidates and that is what contestation is about. Ultimately, we are one party and I don’t believe that the so called healing of a divided province is anything to be worried and concerned about,” he said.
Moodey also admitted that the contest has left the party bruised but there was no time to dwell on the past. He said the focus was now shifting to the 2019 elections where he hopes to lead a charge to dethrone the African National Congress in the province. He called on all members to rally behind the vision and put aside personal squabbles.
“The hurt that I felt also took a brand damage to our party and it was uncalled for. That however is already in the process of healing leading to 2019. We will need every hand on deck and need people to be committed to that course. We have one window of opportunity and we can’t make a slip of this one because we have the opportunity to take Gauteng from the ANC and change the political landscape of South Africa for the better moving toward. That is what I’m focused on and i believe everybody in the party is too and realise the importance of this election in 2019. Campaign is part of renewinh the mandate and I have one. I’m sure we will achieve our objectives. We are through with the congress and what needs to happen is reconciliation. I have pledged to work with everyone because we can’t achieve our objective of taking Gauteng in 2019 if we are divided as a party but I’m very confident we have already past the contestation phase and its about unity and strategic objectives to target 1.5 million voters and take it from the ANC,” he said.
Moodey expressed satisfaction with the party’s internal mechanisms to ensure a successful conference. He said he organising and officiating were of the Hughes standards and ensured they remained within the frame work of the party’s constitution and rules as well as regulations that govern internal elections. An excited Moodey also spoke highly of the support he enjoys in the province.
“Those processes in satisfied with. I did expect to win, I have support across the province in every branch. I haven’t been around for a short while, I have been in the province and part if the party for 19 years. I have built networks as a politician should and I’m satisfied with the outcomes,” he said.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane in his address called on members to support the winners the conference. He warned against factionalism, indicating that such behavior would not be tolerated in the party.
“Let me say this to you, there are no camps in the DA. There are no members of Ghaleb or members of John, there are only members of the DA.
“There will only be one leader for Gauteng and you may not have voted for that leader but at the end of the day as a true Democrat, you must accept the results and get behind that leader and get on the streets and for a South Africa for all,” he said.
THRILLED: JOHN MOODEY