The DA in the Eastern Cape has set its sights on winning more municipalities in the province.
While delivering his keynote address at the DA’s provincial virtual congress on Saturday, party provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said the DA had identified four municipalities it wanted to take over.
“Going forward, our focus will be on winning more municipalities in the 2021 local government election and we have identified Nelson Mandela Bay, Beyers Naude, Koukamma and Inxuba Yethemba as our next frontier – we want more DA mayors at the next congress.
“In by-elections last year, we won back DA wards in Komani and Somerset East, and took a ward from the ANC in Jamestown and made significant inroads in Hofmeyr.
“The results in Jamestown and Hofmeyr were very encouraging and it showed a shift to the DA in those ANC strongholds. Voters in the Eastern Cape are realising the value of the DA as the only alternative,” Bhanga said.
Bhanga and DA provincial chair, Andrew Whitfield, who hosted the congress were nominated for a second term unopposed.
Bobby Stevenson, Terence Fritz, Chantel King and Dharmesh Dhaya have been nominated for the position of deputy provincial leader.
Marshall von Buchenroder, Yusuf Cassim, Vicky Knoetze and Wonga Potwana are vying for the position of deputy provincial chair.
While addressing congress delegates , Bhanga admitted that it had not been smooth sailing for the DA.
He said the 2019 elections had not produced the results the DA was hoping for. However, he commended volunteers and staff for their hard work and on-the-ground campaigning.
“We have seen phenomenal growth in areas, specifically in the rural Eastern Cape, and have accomplished great things, such as our launch of the Provincial Manifesto at Lusikisiki.
“We must not dwell in the past, but rather redouble our efforts and recapture the spirit that we had in the build-up to the 2019 elections as we head into campaigning for 2021,” he said.
Both Bhanga and John Steenhuisen, DA interim party leader, paid homage to former Bay mayor and federal chair Athol Trollip for the contribution he made to the party.
Steenhuisen also cautioned South African voters not to be swayed by the formation of new political parties, saying it happened during every election year.
“Already we’re seeing the same old pattern that emerges ahead of every election, as small parties crop up with fancy promises which they have no way of backing up with proof or a track record.
“Such is the appeal of the shiny and new that these small parties inevitably end up taking away some votes from the strongest opposition party, the DA. Every time a voter does this, the net result is the strengthening of the ANC.
“We’ve been through this scenario so many times. As soon as the elections are over,voters who tested the waters with one of these new start-ups realise they got zero bang for their buck from a one-man party with a regional footprint, and they return to the DA.
“But by then the damage is done for the next five years. The momentum is halted and the ANC is bolstered.There is only one way to unseat the ANC nationally, and that is by weakening them in every consecutive election,” Steenhuisen said.