With municipal elections around the corner, the DA’s Geordin Hill-Lewis has emerged as a favourite to stand as mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
With municipal elections around the corner, the DA’s Geordin Hill-Lewis has emerged as a favourite to stand as mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Geordin Hill-Lewis touted as front runner to take over the reins in Cape Town

By Samkelo Mtshali, Tshego Lepule, Nathan Adams Time of article published May 23, 2021

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Cape Town - With municipal elections around the corner, the DA’s Geordin Hill-Lewis has emerged as a favourite to stand as mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town promising to clamp down on crime, boost the local economy and create jobs.

The official opposition yesterday held its “Time for Change” virtual rally to mark the start of their campaigning ahead of the October 27 local government polls.

Hill-Lewis is touted as the front runner to take over the reins in Cape Town ahead of current mayor Dan Plato.

The other key metros are Nelson Mandela, where the DA nominated Nqaba Bhanga as its mayoral candidate, but Johannesburg and Tshwane have not given an indication on who will contest for the position.

DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille said her party’s call to forge ahead with the local government elections in October is in defence of the Constitution and averting setting a fatal precedent.

Zille said those parties agitating for a postponement were simply not ready for the elections and were using all means to ensure that these elections do not go ahead.

Hill-Lewis who has been campaigning vigorously since announcing his decision to contest for the mayoral candidate said he does not take his chances for granted despite being touted as a firm favourite for the position.

Hill-Lewis joined Parliament in 2011 at the age of 25 where he served on the Public Service and Administration committee from 2011 to 2012 and then Trade and Industry from 2012 to 2018. He currently sits on the finance committee.

He obtained his Honours in politics, philosophy and economics from UCT as well as a BCom degree in politics, philosophy and economics and Master’s in economics policy: finance from the University of London.

He said: “The mayoral race is a very tight and closely-fought race, and I’m up against the incumbent who is a close colleague of mine and has nearly three decades of experience. So I am not taking anything for granted,” he said.

Hill-Lewis said he was determined to protect Cape Town from the collapsing national state. “Every single national service is in a varying state of collapse. The only way to secure Cape Town’s future is by leading the charge on electricity, on public transport, and on crime and safety.

“We are the only party that can do this. Every other party is either complicit in this national collapse, or is too small to do anything about it.

“When we get this right, it will deliver a major boost to the Cape Town economy - lifting more people into jobs and out of poverty. That’s the only sustainable way to make Cape Town more inclusive and give many more people dignity.”

Political analysts weighed in on the changing face of the DA’s top structures as the party struggled with internal fighting and to retain its constituents.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said whoever would be nominated to stand as the mayoral candidate will shine a spotlight on the party’s challenges, particularly around race.

“The party is struggling to retain its white constituents and I don’t think those constituents would even want to be lured back under the current circumstances,” he said.

“The big elephant in the room is that if Plato is replaced by the other candidate, it will attract the perception that the party is showing black leaders the door and it would be a notion brought on by the issues they have been plagued with. Being a political party in South Africa that wants to act like race is a non-issue in this country is a big part of the DA’s problem.”

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the DA needs to think long and hard before it elects a mayoral candidate in Cape Town. “The issue for the DA clearly is once again whether it really needs to have a demographically representative leadership core in the areas that it governs or areas that it is strong.”

He added: “The DA has this dilemma because to them the issue is the best person for the job, whatever the person’s race might be. The reality of South African politics is that optics actually do matter and especially in view of the DA being on the defensive about other leadership appointments that have occurred, and especially given the unpleasant departure by many senior black leaders within the party, the optics really now are an important issue for the DA to face.”

Silke said despite the DA securing a majority of 154 seats in the City Council, the party should not take huge risks with the electorate. “Nothing is guaranteed ... while some of the most solid DA support is certainly on the Cape Flats in and around Cape Town, we have seen the movement of coloured voters in the south of Johannesburg away from the DA and the Patriotic Alliance won two wards off the DA just a few days ago. I don’t think that the DA can simply argue that it is in such a strong position (in Cape Town) that it can take decisions that potentially can alienate some of the strongest support base.”

Silke admitted that the party has a difficult balancing act. “The DA has a tough job here. It really needs to find suitable candidates that are demographically representative of the electorate in which they find themselves. No matter how talented or suitable some candidates might be this has to be balanced against the optics and against the desire of the DA to retain its demographically mixed support base.”

Weekend Argus

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