KwaZulu-Natal Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango says he has turned down requests by some members to contest one of the positions at a national level. Mncwango recently announced that he will not avail himself for re-election at the party’s provincial conference early next year.

Mncwango is a staunch supporter of Mbali Ntuli who will be up against DA interim leader, John Steenhuisen, in the race for the party national leader next month.

He has dismissed reports that he is resigning from the party. He says he will not stand for re-election when the party in the province elects its new leadership in March next year.

41-year old Mncwango is serving the second term as provincial leader after he secured victory at the 2015 and 2018 conferences.

“And I’m not intending to resign from the DA, and I informed the province way back in 2018. I made clear that I believe that two terms are just enough for a leader. I believe that, as leaders, at least we must allow ourselves to lead for two terms so that you pave the way for someone else to lead. I have been approached by many people; some believe that I can play a role at the national level. But as I said, at least for the next three years it has always been my dream to finish my PhD. So, I won’t be taking any position. If I move now to any national position it will still take my time. I can’t say in future I won’t take any position if people want me to take a position, but for now, all I’m requesting (is) can I be given a chance to focus on my personal growth.”

But, political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu says Mncwango’s reasons that he wants to pursue his studies do not hold water.

He says Mncwango might have weighed the prospects of his future in the leadership of the DA and decided to exit the leadership position now, rather than later.

“If you look at the reasons he put forth that he wants to pursue his PhD studies, such reasons do not hold particularly because you can do your PhD while doing other things unless, of course, you intend doing your PhD abroad in which case then maybe if you want to go and do it on a full-time basis. But also looking at the broader context – the politics of the DA currently – we have seen a number of black leaders leaving the DA, one-by-one. This was the case with Lindiwe Mazibuko, Patricia De Lille, Mmusi Maimane and just the other day from Gauteng, Herman Mashaba. So, that itself tells you that some of those who are still remaining will have to ask themselves the question, ‘do we have a future here?’ If the answer is in the negative obviously they will have to consider other options.”

Among the names taunted to contest the position are party caucus leader in the eThekwini Metro Nicole Graham, Hannif Hoosen and Emmanuel Mhlongo who was up against Mncwango in the previous conference and Mncwango’s deputy, Mergan Chetty.

Chetty, however, says he is still applying his mind on whether to accept or decline the nomination.

“It is true I have received calls from members within the party after the announcement in the media last Sunday by our provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango who has said he is not seeking re-election. Approaches have been made but I will only make my final decision once the internal processes within the party has opened.”

Mncwango believes the DA’s support in the province has grown under his leadership. He says during the 2016 municipal elections, the party managed to get seats in rural municipalities and became kingmakers in a number of municipalities.