DOES Khume Ramulifho – the DA’s member of the Gauteng legislature – stand a chance to become his party’s first black leader in one of its biggest regions in the province?
The 32-year-old Ramulifho faces the major hurdle of convincing more than 600 voting delegates – mostly traditional white DA members – to vote for him during his party’s Gauteng South regional congress this Saturday.
Delegates will gather at the City of Joburg’s main hall to choose one contender out of the four who have made themselves available for selection.
Ramulifho is contesting the position with veteran City of Joburg councillor Cameron MacKenzie and two lesser known women, Glenda Prinsloo and Grace Lugnau.
Yesterday, Ramulifho was unfazed that the majority of delegates expected at the congress were white.
While he acknowledging that less than 200 delegates were from traditional black and coloured areas, Ramulifho said he had made himself available for nomination following widespread support from all his party’s members – including whites.
The congress would attract delegates from the entire City of Joburg region, including its northern suburbs and Soweto, Lesedi and Emfuleni in the Vaal.
“I would not have made myself available if my nomination came only from the predominantly black and coloured DA members. My availability is based on ‘fit for purpose’. I feel that I am a good person for the job. I also have enough political experience within the party,” Ramulifho maintained.
He was just 19 when he joined the then Democratic Party (DP) as his first political home while still a student at the then Vaal Technikon in 1998. He also joined the DP’s student wing at the time.
He rose through his party’s ranks and became the DA South region youth leader in 2002.
The following year, Ramulifho was elected DA Gauteng’s youth leader until 2008.
During the same period, he was elected the DA youth wing’s national leader – a position he held until last year. While still a youth leader, Ramulifho became a councillor of the City of Joburg in 2006 and subsequently a member of the Gauteng legislature after the national elections in April 2009.
He serves as the DA’s provincial spokesman on education and often engages in debates with members of the ruling ANC.
He believes his credentials and experience in the DA’s politics would persuade delegates to vote for him.
“I want to reorganise the region. We want to win Gauteng in 2014. We do not want to be seen as a regional party which only focuses in the Western Cape. I represent growth in the party and I hope to achieve it by targeting young people to join the DA,” Ramulifho said.
Earlier in March, the DA named Soweto-born Mmusi Maimane as its first black mayoral candidate for the City of Joburg in the lead-up to the local government elections on May 18.
Maimane lost to the ANC’s Parks Tau, who has since been installed as mayor. Maimane increased the DA’s support base in Joburg.