DA leader battle hots up

Delegates will have to choose between track record and leadership connections

A choice between a solid track record and proximity to senior leadership. This is how some members see the contest between DA activists Nqaba Bhanga and Veliswa Mvenya just two weeks before the party elects its Eastern Cape leader next month.

Asked what set the two apart, a constituency leader, who would not be named, said: “People who will vote for Nqaba [Bhanga] are more likely to vote for him because he has surrounded himself with [mayor Athol] Trollip, councillor Andrew Whitfield and MPL Bobby Stevenson.”

Bhanga, a mayoral committee member in Nelson Mandela Bay, joined the party in 2013 and was instrumental in the municipal election campaign which saw it win the most votes last year to form a coalition government to run the metro.

Mvenya, an MPL with a 17 year history with the party, is seen as central to its growth, particularly in the eastern side of the province.

Tsitsi-Kouga constituency leader Malcom Figg said: “I won’t be voting for camps, I will be voting for a track record.

“Nqaba and Andrew showed what they are capable of when they won the DA Nelson Mandela Bay. It is that kind of spirit that will win for us 2019.”

Marshall von Buchenroder, who leads the Winterhoek constituency in Uitenhage, said he would be mindful of the 2019 elections when voting.

He said Bhanga had surrounded himself with credible people who were able to take the party forward.

Meanwhile, Ross Purdon of the Ntsikana constituency near Cradock described Bhanga as a strong contender who worked well with all kinds of people.

Marion Mackley, a ward councillor in Buffalo City said although she would not be a delegate she was looking forward to see the DA electing new provincial leaders.

“The contestants have done a lot for the party and have been going through the regions to campaign. It will be a close contest.”

Mvenya’s proposed leadership team consists of people from different parts of the province, while Bhanga’s is largely rooted in the Bay.

Some said the way proposed teams were spread across the province would influence their decision.

Vicky Knoetze of Beyers Naude constituency said she would vote for a team of different individuals who were based in both rural and the metros constituencies. “It must be a well-balanced team so that all our members’ interests are considered.”

Heinrich Muller from West constituency in Port Elizabeth said he supported Mvenya for the provincial leadership because she could build support that could take the party to victory in the province in 2019.

Rural constituencies are regarded as Mvenya’s stronghold, although her leadership team is made up of candidates from across the Eastern Cape.

Thembi Thimbo, one of her supporters and a voting delegate from Port St Johns, said: “We are behind Veliswa because she needs no introduction in our villages.

“If we win the province in 2019 we will have a leader who knows our challenges.”

DA MP, Terri Stander would not say whom she supported. “I believe candidates should stand on their own two feet and delegates should vote based on the vision each candidate offers.”

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