ROAD TO 2024: By ignoring black and Indian candidates in KwaZulu-Natal, Zukile Majova writes that the DA is suffering from a serious case of failing to read the room.
Not even a black party would dare field two white men to lead its election campaign in a rural province like KwaZulu-Natal.
But the DA is doing just that.
The strategy appears to overlook blacks, Indians and women in general.
The party has chosen one of its top performing mayors, Chris Pappas, the likeable mayor of Umngeni Municipality, to be its premier candidate for KZN in the 2024 elections.
Pappas is credited with turning around the broken, bankrupt and underperforming Umngeni Local Municipality in less than three years.
The Zulu-speaking, energetic mayor however is expected to criss-cross the province with DA provincial chairperson Francois Rogers.
Rogers is 62 years old, white and largely unknown among millions of Zulus that the DA would need to win the province.
Door-to-door campaigns by Pappas and Rogers would also be bolstered by Durban North boy John Steenhuisen, the national leader of the DA.
“Our campaign will start in the urban areas and build up to other parts of the province,” Rogers told the media on Monday.
South Africa is home to over one million Indians, making up over 17% of the population with KZN as their home province.
Over the years, the Indian community has supported the DA in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Eshowe, Richards Bay and other urban areas.
“As your premier candidate, I will carry a message of hope to all corners of the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
“My presence here is a resolution of a democratic political freedom that was won 30 years ago.
“Regardless of my identity, my age, my race, my gender, my sexuality and my rural upbringing,
I stand before you ready to lead, ready to serve,” said Pappas accepting the nomination in Durban on Monday.
The DA’s bid for a political takeover in KZN will be bolstered by its coalition with the resurgent Inkatha Freedom Party that has been driving the ANC out of municipalities across the uThukela River.
The two parties won less than 30% of the provincial vote in 2019 — IFP 14.58% and DA 14.24%.
The ANC won the province by 55.4% of the vote in 2019 but received just 41.4% in the 2021 local government elections.
Until the recent death of IFP founder Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the two looked set to give the ANC a run for its money.
But there are now talks of a power struggle in the IFP and the DA/IFP coalition is likely to split its vote as the two parties are each fielding their own premier candidates instead of uniting their voters under one candidate.
Pictured above: Chris Pappas flanked by Francios Rogers and John Steenhuisen
Image source: Twitter