DA leader Mmusi Maimane has announced KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango as the party's premier candidate for the province. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - eThekwini Municipality councillor and Exco member, Zwakele Mncwango, has been announced as the Democratic Alliance’s choice for the position of premier in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2019 elections.

Mncwango also leads the official opposition in the province.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane made the announcement on Thursday at the Ohlange High School in Inanda. The first African National Congress (ANC) president, John Langalibalele Dube, founded the school in 1900.

Maimane said that Mncwango represented “a new generation of 21st century leaders that stand for the values of freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity”, who were ready to lead the charge to remove the failing and corrupt ANC-led government.

“Zwakele has a vision for KZN that will see access to jobs for all, the eradication of poverty and inequality, and where all are united in our diversity – where it be race, religion or culture.”

Maimane said “from today”, Mncwango would lead a team that is committed to fighting corruption, fixing the provincial police service, fighting drug abuse and creating “fair access to real and long-term jobs and working to speed up the delivery of basic services to our people”.

Addressing the media, Mncwango said he was proud to be “a son of this great province” and would work hard to take KZN “into new frontiers”.

This election is our chance to stand up and get our province back on track. It is our chance to choose. We can let KZN become more unequal, more corrupt and more uncaring, or we can choose to stand up for change that builds a better future for all,” said Mncwango.

Maimane said he would be travelling throughout the country to announce the party’s other provincial premiership candidates.  

The DA became the province’s official opposition for the first time after the 2014 national and provincial general elections, replacing the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi-led Inkatha Freedom Party in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, which sits in the capital city Pietermaritzburg.

The party secured 12.76% of the provincial vote, pipping the IFP which had 10.8%, The ANC won with an outright majority of 64.52%.

However there is a possibility that the DA could cede this position to a resurgent Inkatha Freedom Party in 2019, who controlled the province up and until 2004, followed by its near-collapse characterised by various breakaways, most notably the National Freedom Party, which itself is currently in crisis, and poor governance at many of the small and rural municipalities it controlled.

In the 2016 Local Government Elections, the DA secured 13.70% of all votes in the province as opposed to the IFP’s 20.22%. The ANC dropped to 57.79%. In the event that the ANC dips below 50%, KwaZulu-Natal would likely be run by a coalition government.

African News Agency (ANA)