Tale of two factions as DA's meat and beer group faces off against cheese and wine crowd
It was a tale of one party living in two different worlds when DA contenders for the position of federal chair hosted last-minute dinners to conclude their election campaigns in Tshwane.
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and his Nelson Mandela Bay counterpart Athol Trollip held separate dinner parties on Friday in a final bid to win over delegates who will vote this afternoon.
Trollip, the incumbent, hosted his dinner at the four-star Southern Sun Hotel in Arcadia, while about a kilometre away Msimanga welcomed supporters to 012 Shisanyama in the heart of the city.
Trollip's event was indoors and featured wine and snacks while Msimanga's outdoor gathering was heavy on braaied meat, beer and cider.
Trollip's guests included high-profile DA leaders such as chief whip John Steenhuisen, Western Cape provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and Western Cape economic MEC Alan Winde.
Msimanga's party was dominated by rank-and-file members of the DA but they included Gauteng MPL Khume Ramulifho, KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango and MPs Solly Malatsi and Zak Mbhele.
Western Cape MPL Masizole Mnqasela, who is among those running Msimanga's campaign, said the Tshwane mayor appealed to all races, which would help the DA in the general election next year.
With DA leader Mmusi Maimane expected to be elected unopposed this morning, the battle between Msimanga and Trollip became the fiercest contest at this weekend's congress.
Nqaba Bhanga, the leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape who is among those lobbying for Trollip's re-election, said he backed the Nelson Mandela Bay mayor "because he is a South African who understands that we must build a future for our children where colour doesn't matter". Trollip himself told the Sunday Times he still had a lot to offer the DA.
"The party needs to have a proper foundation ... and we must avoid populism. We need to trust in what has brought us so far," he said.
Trollip said he was unconcerned about the outcome of the vote. "I have lost before in the party ... it didn't weaken me, it made me stronger."
In an address to his supporters on Friday night, Msimanga said one of the things the DA needed to change was its regular bashing of the ANC.
"The people of South Africa don't want to hear negativity all the time, they want to hear a message of hope," Msimanga said. "Let's ensure that we're able to begin a new chapter for the DA."