Axed Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse has officially announced her candidature for the position of party leader and will go up against incumbent John Steenhuisen.
On Monday, Phalatse told supporters at Hector Pieterson Square in Soweto that her decision to run for the party's top job comes amid the African National Congress's (ANC's) mismanagement of the country.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will hold its provincial conference in April over two days at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.
She said her team chose the Hector Pieterson memorial for the announcement because the DA is a party for all South Africans.
"I do recognise the perception out there that my party, the DA, is indifferent to the plight of black people. Yet, contrary to the narrative, mostly pushed and peddled by our political opponents, we are a party that recognises the injustices of the past and that honours those, like Hector, who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we celebrate," she said.
"We are unwavering in our belief that South Africa would not be the constitutional democracy which is held in high regard as a shining beacon of hope within the global family of nations, if it were not for the selfless struggles of those who came before us," she added.
According to Phalatse, there is very little doubt that South Africa is at a crossroads.
"One path at this crossroads leads to a potential precipice – a total collapse and mayhem. The other leads to reconstruction and repair. We have an obligation to urgently emancipate the people of South Africa from the shackles of despair and political disillusionment, which are a result of almost 30 years of the ANC's politics of greed and plunder," she said.
The former Johannesburg mayor said the country needs new leadership that can rekindle the flame of hope.
"Our country is on the cusp of change. Millions of South Africans are searching for a credible political alternative. Others, in total despair, choose to stay away and simply not participate in the electoral process. As the second largest political party in the country, the DA is well-positioned to become that alternative for all the people of South Africa, black and white, rich or poor, urban or rural," she said.
Phalatse said the DA she believes in must genuinely promote meritocracy and not tokenism in its selection processes.
"I am steadfast in my belief that a recalibrated, reoriented DA can give the people of South Africa the political alternative they so desperately need right now, especially as we move ever closer to the 2024 general elections. Whilst most South Africans would agree on the DA’s brand of good governance, a trust deficit remains," she said.
So far, it has been only Phalatse that has come out to say she is standing for the position. At the party's last election congress, in 2020, former DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Mbali Ntuli, challenged Steenhuisen for the position but lost out.