PRETORIA, Newly re-elected DA leader in Gauteng John Moodey is calling for party members to unite after what has been a bruising battle, as part of a bid to secure 1.5 million new votes in 2019 with a view towards governing the province.

Moodey emerged as leader of Gauteng following the province’s much-anticipated congress, which took place in Midrand, Johannesburg yesterday.

His victory followed a hot contestation between himself and DA newcomer Ghaleb Cachalia.

Other newly elected leaders include deputy provincial chairperson Bongani Nkomo as well as chairperson Mike Moriarty, who takes over the reins from Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga.

Some were shocked yesterday when delegates aligned to Moodey started booing Cachalia while he was making his address ahead of voting.

Cachalia took to social media in response, writing: Booing at a DA congress. What’s next? Throwing chairs?

Cachalia also took issue with shoes that appeared to have been dished out at the congress. He wrote on his Facebook page: What next? Watches? Holiday vouchers? Share certificate?

He refused to comment on the matter, however, saying he was waiting for all the facts.

The congress went well, he told City Press.

There were no chairs thrown, we had an orderly conference, the best man won, the people decided.

Issues came to the fore, and it is very important for issues to come to the fore. Those issues are out in the open in the party and that is what is important going forward. We will unite behind the leader towards 2019.

When asked if he would contest the outcome, Cachalia was noncommittal, saying the final decision would be made by his team.

Moodey explained that the shoes had been sponsored with a view to encouraging delegates to walk together to 2019. He added that they did not have his name on them.

In the end, a decision was taken to sponsor the shoes for the less fortunate as handing them out was not working logistically.

Moodey said the shoes were not put in a secure place and some people had gotten hold of them before the official handing out could be affected.

On the matter of dirty tricks, Moodey said he kept his campaign clean and expressed the hope that the two sides could regroup and work together towards 2019.

I always kept my campaign clean. I appreciate that campaigns can be dirty and bruising. I have lost before and I have put my shoulder to the wheel and supported my provincial leader for us to achieve the objective, Moodey said.

Myself and Ghaleb will be able to continue with our friendship and relationship. I would like to believe that his supporters will do the same, especially those that were part of his campaign team … [I would like to believe] that they will accept that this is not a John Moodey win, but a win for the DA in Gauteng.

The party will now move to intensify its campaign to take over governing the province in 2019.

We now want to reach the objective of 1.5 million additional votes so that we can win Gauteng with an outright majority in 2019. Faith and trust have been restored to me and I am not going to fail my people.

Mabine Seabe, the DA’s director of communications, said much had been invested in yesterday’s congress from a national level, given how strategic the province had become for the party.

The DA’s head office is moving to Gauteng in January.