Durban — UMngeni mayor Chris Pappas says he has decided not to avail himself for re-election as the DA provincial deputy leader to focus on his responsibilities as the mayor.
The mayor told the Daily News at the weekend that he believed there were many others in the party who were capable of stepping up and supporting the leader who will emerge.
“I have decided not to stand for re-election at the upcoming congress. I will be focusing my time and energy on Umngeni and the challenges of governance,” said Pappas.
Although the congress will take place at the end of April, informal discussions and lobbying on social media have started. Judging by comments on social media it looks like the current leadership will return uncontested – except for Pappas.
He was elected to deputise Francois Rodgers in March last year alongside Dean Macpherson as provincial chairperson and Sithembiso Ngema as deputy chairperson.
Both Rogers and Macpherson said they had not made their decisions on whether they will avail themselves since nominations had not started.
Ngema also said he had noted that there were people who wanted him to contest the deputy leader’s position but said he would consider once formally nominated for the position.
Macpherson said he was humbled by the people who were lobbying the current leadership to return and the fact that no new members were showing interest meant that the current leadership did a good job to unite the province which was highly factional.
He said the DA had the mandate to force a coalition in the province after the 2024 general elections so unity was important.
eThekwini party councillor Emmanuel Mhlongo who previously challenged former party leader Zwakele Mncwango and Rodgers said he would not avail himself this time around and vowed to rally behind any leader who would be elected.
“To be a leader does not mean you must be only a provincial or national leader. You are a leader also where you are and I am happy that the party entrusted me with a position to lead as councillor in eThekwini,” said Mhlongo.
He added that he was happy with the unity that was prevailing in the party. With Nicole Graham out of the picture as well, the current leadership could return with ease.
Graham, a former party eThekwini municipality councillor and caucus leader, left last year to further her studies in Australia. She had challenged Rodgers in 2021, but was defeated.
Macpherson said the provincial leadership term was normally three years but was cut short to align it with the national general elections next year, saying it would not have been an ideal time to go to the congress in 2024 instead of preparing for the general elections.
In what was believed to be preparations to take over the province from the ANC, the DA and IFP have strengthened their relationship which saw the DA choose not to contest the ward 99 by-election in eThekwini a few weeks ago, paving the way for the IFP to wrestle the ward from the ANC.
The ward included areas populated by white and Indian communities in Umkomaas south of Durban where the DA had strong support.