Durban - The DA’s Chris Pappas is set to negotiate the political dynamics of KwaZulu-Natal after the party announced that he is the party’s Premier candidate for the province ahead of next year’s national general election.
DA federal leader John Steenhuisen said Pappas had a track record of getting things done.
“He leads a municipality, uMngeni Municipality, which is a shining beacon. People are getting jobs and the economy is moving forward (there). None of this would be possible unless it was led by an individual of the highest integrity, who is able to transcend race, language barriers and move South Africans together as one.”
Pappas, addressing supporters on the steps of the Durban City Hall yesterday, said he would prioritise revitalising the economy, job creation, the rule of law, and dealing with corruption and service delivery in the local government sphere.
The party’s biggest challenge is to find a coalition partner, having already established a service delivery pact with the IFP, which has retained some stronghold areas that had been taken by the ANC.
Pappas said it was unfortunate that people in the province were confronted with adversity daily.
“Many of you wonder about the future of our province, whether it is concern about grant payments, children going to school hungry, criminals having more power than the police, and unemployment which affects dignity because people cannot find work in our province.
“Hopelessness and fear are choices. To overcome them we must be fearless and take up the responsibility to create a new future. For too long the government has mistreated and lied to us. Find the courage to rescue KZN, and this will be done by a DA-led government.”
He said the party governed in 36 municipalities in the country, and the top five municipalities were run by the DA.
Pappas called on DA supporters to urge people to register to vote.
“This uncaring government is obsessed with stealing, and this is our last chance to save our beautiful province, and we need you. This is a new struggle for a non-racial and prosperous nation, where leaders serve the people and not abuse us,” Pappas said.
He is expected to remain the uMngeni mayor even though he is the party’s premier candidate for the province.
Steenhuisen said the party was on an “important mission to rescue and liberate the province from the ANC”, saying the state of disrepair of eThekwini highlighted the need for change.
“This city has fallen more and more into disrepair; it was a city on the move, working, going forward, but look at it now. It should be a hub of tourism, but like everything else, everything the ANC touches they have broken – in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and KZN,” said Pappas.
Political analyst Dirk Kotze said Pappas’s track record as uMngeni mayor showed his ability to develop a local economy for the municipality.
“That is one of the stated objectives, even of national government, for municipalities to not to rely on provincial government for this.”
However Kotze said it would be difficult for the DA to win an outright majority in KZN next year.
The party in the province has faced questions over its leadership not being racially diverse after the departure of seasoned leaders Zwakele Mncwango and Mbali Ntuli and there are concerns over its ability to attract rural, township and urban voters.
He added that the IFP was growing.
“The two parties have signed a co-operative agreement and they are key members of the multi-party agreement.”
Kotze said each party would announce its own premier candidates in different provinces, and this offered insight into how the alliance would work before the elections.