The DA's hopes of winning South Africa's economic hub have been "shattered" as ANC members who were "pissed off" with the Jacob Zuma presidency have warmed up to Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC provincial leader and Gauteng Premier David Makhura said.
The acting chairperson in an interview with News24 on Thursday said he was confident that the ANC would regain lost ground in the province when the country goes to the polls in 2019.
DA member of the provincial legislature Makashule Gana has already indicated that he wants to take on Makhura in the battle to lead Gauteng as the party hopes to govern beyond the Western Cape.
Makhura said the ANC lost electoral support because its members had stayed away from the polls in anger over "national issues".
"They (the DA) had prospects before their problems and before the ANC [began] to put its house in order. That hope is shattered...of them winning Gauteng," said Makhura.
The DA has been grappling with issues including policy uncertainty, questions around leadership and a protracted battle with Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.
'The ANC was weak'
The ANC won Gauteng by just 53%, a decline from their 64% win in 2009. The party also lost control of two major municipalities in the province, Tshwane and Johannesburg, in the 2016 local elections. The party had already lost Midvaal municipality in the previous elections.
Makhura, who did not mention former president Zuma by name, said the reasons for the decline in support had been well-documented.
"People in the suburbs and in the townships were feeling that this ANC they were seeing, they couldn't identify with it," said Makhura.
"The ANC was weak. ANC members were pissed off [with a party] being seen to be soft on corruption, the things that were happening in state-owned enterprises and government departments and with people acting with impunity," continued Makhura.
He also defended his province from those who argued that there was no difference between the wrongs that were happening in the ANC at national level and at provincial level in Gauteng.
"We were the bulwark, we were at the forefront. We have never been afraid to raise our views on things that were going wrong in the province," said the premier.
'I will not tell ANC members why they must elect me'
Makhura is expected to be elected the ANC provincial chair when the party in Gauteng goes to its elective conference next month. He, however, refused to comment when asked why he was the right person to lead the political party given that the current leadership collective had presided over an ANC whose electoral support had dwindled.
"You want me to do the un-ANC thing," protested the premier.
"I will not tell ANC members why they must elect me. I think they know me much, much better, including if they must elect me or not," continued Makhura.
Makhura has faced criticism from within the ANC and from opposition parties for the Life Esidimeni tragedy that left 144 patients dead after they were moved to unlicensed NGOs. He, however, claimed that his government's successes included clean governance, housing programmes and investment in township economies.
"In practice, we have been ensuring that we run governance in Gauteng consistent with ANC values, not just the values of our Constitution, but also the values of our own party. From time to time as a national organisation we have not been seen to be consistent with those values, but I think we are on track," said Makhura.
Dispute resolution processes
The acting chairperson also emphasised that processes leading up to the provincial conference had been peaceful.
"There will be no deaths, there will be no blood on the floor.
"People will be expelled from the ANC if they fight in our meetings and this we have no apology about," he said.
Makhura did admit that there was no guarantee that there would be no court challenges from aggrieved members but said he often encouraged people who had complaints to use the ANC's dispute resolution processes.
Recent ANC conferences in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State have been plagued by court battles.