In a frank admission Gauteng premier David Makhura says he does not want to hang on to power in 2019 at costs and has called for politicians to run campaigns that are ethical and evidence-based while not bashing the other falsely.
"In this period of history if South Africa, It's not my preoccupation that we win the elections at all costs. I will be very pleased that we win the elections convincingly in 2019," Makhura said.
It was a stark departure from the ANC in government's comments previously when faced with a potential loss at the polls.
He was speaking to media practitioners in Johannesburg on Thursday evening during an informal gathering. He said he wants people to know that his team has done all it can and within the ambits of the law leading to the general election in 2019. He wants his work to be the determining factor for re-election instead of mudslinging and peddling lies, the premier said.
It's very dangerous to want to remain in government at all costs.
"The team knows here that we want to show the people that we are doing our best. But to worry and want to win at all cost -- it's almost like: why is there a democracy? Let the people decide in 2019 who they want to elect. Whether we get elected or not, we reach our targets [and] we will say we have done a great job. We will have a single transport authority; we will have left something for the people of Gauteng. The improvements in managing the finances and deploying procurement to change, we will say we leave a law on open tender systems," said Makhura.
The general election in 2019 will prove to be a serious litmus test for the once mighty African National Congress following a bruising the municipal election of 2016 where they lost some of their major municipalities. The City of Johannesburg and Tshwane in particular fell to opposition parties, serving as a wake-up call to the ruling party which has said in the past it will govern until Jesus returns. Makhura however, said he believes good, clean and honest governance could stand the organization in good faith to ensure it retains power.
Governments do well and lose elections. You just have to accept that it's the consequence of democracy.
He was frank in his talk and indicated that sometimes governments don't change purely because something is going wrong but at times it about giving others a chance. Keeping an eye on staying in power at all costs could be detrimental and result in service delivery being hampered, something he does not want to see.
"Sometimes when you are in government and you are preoccupied with remaining in government at all costs we can do wrong things as long as those things win us elections. It's very dangerous to want to remain in government at all costs. Being electable is a normal concern for every party and every government. Every government in a democracy worries that we must be elected again," said Makhura.
His desire to win based on honesty, integrity and dignity, however, does not mean he will allow other parties to go around spreading lies about his administration. Makhura said no party would be allowed to rubbish their government simply to paint them in a bad light in order to gain the upper hand.
I don't mind that we may end up in the opposition benches.
He said they would fight tooth and nail politically and ideologically to defend the credibility of what they have been able to achieve while in power.
"That we will do. There are always factors that determine an election. It's not just what you do. Many governments have lost elections not because they were doing bad. We wouldn't be the first if we do. Governments do well and lose elections. You just have to accept that it's the consequence of democracy. Sometimes people just feel these guys have been there for long let's just give a chance to others. I don't mind that we may end up in the opposition benches. If we do, we will do so with the dignity of the way we were governing," he said.