By Zukile Majova
Dr Mpho Phalatse has star power.
Anyone who watched her wrestle with the ANC bullies in the battle for control of the R87 billion Johannesburg metro would have seen her talent.
Despite countless attempts by the ANC to undermine her efforts, Phalatse managed to lead a fractious coalition of smaller parties that believed in her vision.
She developed a comprehensive plan to reduce the impact of load shedding on businesses in the country’s economic hub.
The ANC caucus sabotaged her application for a R2 billion loan to stabilise the City’s finances and drive economic recovery.
But the same ANC-led coalition immediately announced plans to approve a R2 billion loan after it removed Phalatse from office.
Just two months after her departure, the City introduced water shedding in many communities despite dams being filled to capacity.
New Mayor Thapelo Amad told a media briefing he had no idea whether Rand Water or Johannesburg Water was responsible for the cockup.
At least 28 water tankers are roving around the city supplying water to desperate ratepayers.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health announced a cholera outbreak in the city with 10 confirmed cases.
The over six million residents of Johannesburg lost out dearly when Phalatse’s coalition was ousted by a coalition of the ANC and the EFF.
But she needs not be lost to South Africa.
She is exactly what the DA will need as it makes its case to millions of black middle class voters ahead of the 2024 elections.
Her future role in the party begins this weekend, when she takes on the party’s blue-eyed boy, John Steenhuisen, in the contest for the position of DA federal leader.
Steenhuisen replaced Mmusi Maimane following the 2019 elections, where the party lost support for the very first time, declining from 22.23% to 20.7%.
But the Durban North boy is not nearly as charming as Phalatse is to a bigger mass of voters in what is expected to be the most important election since 1994.
The opposition has a real chance of reducing the ANC share of the vote to below 50% in provinces like Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The DA has chosen not to headline Phalatse in any of its campaigns and protests.
If they continue to sideline her, they might just lose her to the likes of ActionSA, which is desperate for someone of her stature and eloquence to ignite its election campaign.
If she left she would join a long list of prominent black leaders who have left the DA, including Lindiwe Mazibuko, Herman Mashaba, Mmusi Maimane, Phumzile van Damme, Mbali Ntuli, Makashule Gana and Bongani Baloyi.
But none of them was as badly missed as the doctor from Joburg will be if she vacates the party.
Pictured above: Mpho Phalatse