DA MP Dean Macpherson has raised his hand for the position of chairperson ahead of the party’s KwaZulu-Natal Congress. PICTURE SUPPLIED

Durban - The DA's leadership race is heating up ahead of the KwaZulu-Natal congress with party MP Dean Macpherson throwing his hat in the ring for the position of chairperson. The congress will be held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban on February 3 and the party expected at least 600 delegates.
Asked what had influenced his move, Macpherson, 32, responded: “I believe the time is now for someone like myself who is young, dynamic, has key organisational skills and who can bring fresh ideas to the table as we push towards the critical elections in 2019.”

The position Macpherson is gunning for is currently occupied by Haniff Hoosen, who is yet to indicate whether he will contest the election.

“I will make a decision this weekend after consulting with my family and senior people in our party,” Hoosen said.

Nominations opened last Monday and are closing tomorrow

Party leader Zwakele Mncwango has previously told the Sunday Tribune that he will contest his position. His predecessor, Sizwe Mchunu, has kept his cards close to his chest on whether he will contest the party leader position. But the Sunday Tribune has reliably learnt that some DA members were persuading Mchunu to challenge Mncwango, who dislodged him in 2015.

The DA is holding its provincial Congresses ahead of the national Congress expected to take place in April.

Macpherson, who joined the DA when he was 16 years old, said he acquired massive experience while rising through the ranks as a young activist. He spent five years as a ward councillor in eThekwini metro and is now serving as the DA's Shadow Minister for Trade & Industry in the National Assembly.

“I take nothing for granted and will be campaigning every day across this province meeting with delegates. Activists and public representatives are the lifeblood of our party and I want to take them into my confidence and share my plan one on one with them,” he said.

On his plans to woo black voters, he said: “My constituency is 95% in rural Richmond, Mkhambathini and uMshwathi and we managed to grow our black support from 2.5% to 6.5% in the 2016 elections.” He said the surge was because, “my team and I focused on being with voters and speaking with them, and not at them.”

As Cape Town DA mayor, Patricia De Lille’s future hangs in the balance, Macpherson said: “That is a matter that the Federal Executive is dealing with and believe they will apply their minds in the best interests of the party and governance for the City of Cape Town.”

Macpherson has been leading the charge against the deadly scourge of stone throwing on highways, even offering rewards to people to identify the culprits.

On the upcoming congress, Political analyst, Imraan Buccus said: “I think both Zwakele Mncwango and Haniff Hoosen (if they accept nomination) are likely to retain their positions.” Buccus said Mncwango speaks to the strategic agenda of attracting the largely untapped black vote particularly the rural KZN vote. Hoosen, he said, has proven to be hard working and competent. On congress, Hoosen said: “We are fully on track and monitoring progress on an hourly basis. We invest an enormous amount of effort to ensure that every regulation and procedure is properly effected before the actual congress is convened.There appears to be no reason why we could not have a very successful congress this year.”