Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and DA premier candidate for next year's elections. File photo: ANA

JOHANNESBURG - City of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga will lead the DA's "charge to unseat the failing ANC and bring real change to Gauteng" in next year's national and provincial elections, DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced on Sunday.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce that this weekend the federal executive of the Democratic Alliance (DA) ratified the selection of Solly Msimanga as the DA’s premier candidate for Gauteng for the 2019 election following a competitive and rigorous selection process," he told journalists at a media briefing in Johannesburg.

Gauteng would be a central battleground in the election campaign next year and the DA was confident that Msimanga would lead a team that would bring the change the people of Gauteng deserved. 

Msimanga possessed the experience, temperament, integrity, and expertise to lead the DA to victory in Gauteng, Maimane said.

"Solly has been a DA member for 14 years, working his way up in the party by consistently proving his commitment to the DA’s values and vision for a united, non-racial, and prosperous South Africa. While he is currently serving as the executive mayor of the City of Tshwane – the nation’s capital – he has previously held various leadership positions in the DA, including as a member of the Gauteng legislature and the DA’s Gauteng chairperson.

"Before that, he was part of the DA’s professional staff compliment for several years. Msimanga has been married to his wife Monde for 12 years, and the couple has two young sons Aobokwe and Amogelang."

Msimanga, 38, was "a man of the Gauteng soil", having grown up and attended school in Atteridgeville west of Pretoria. During his younger years he lived in a shack with his family and still recounted his memories of walking to school with holes in his shoes. 

He used to play cricket, captained his school debating team, sang in the church choir, and was part of numerous youth upliftment structures in the community and at church, Maimane said.

"Solly represents a new generation of leaders in the DA – young, charismatic, articulate, competent, and wholeheartedly committed to improving the lives of South Africans, particularly people oppressed by unemployment and poverty.

"Following his election unopposed as Tshwane Mayor in 2016, Solly has gained valuable government experience, successfully engaging the challenging party-political dynamics in Tshwane with relative stability and success. I have no doubt that Solly has the skills needed to manage the multiple stakeholders in the province, while getting on with the business of the people of Gauteng.

"Under Solly’s leadership the City of Tshwane has turned a R2 billion debt inherited from the previous failing ANC government into a R704 million surplus. Just last month Tshwane was ranked the fastest growing city in Africa, with almost R5 billion in investment already attracted to the nation’s capital," Maimane said.

With almost 10 million unemployed South Africans there was no doubt that next year’s election was about jobs. Gauteng was the economic hub that powered South Africa. 

It was a great province with the potential to be a thriving centre of economic growth and prosperity for the people.

"But we all know it’s taken a wrong turn from the path envisaged at the dawn of our democracy. Crime is rising, corruption is oppressing us, and there is no fair access to jobs. The failing ANC-government... failed to create jobs for the people of Gauteng or keep them safe from crime, they have no credible plan on how to do so.They are no longer capable of managing the real problems the people of Gauteng face each day," Maimane said.

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African News Agency (ANA)