The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane came out guns blazing in a fierce attempt to discredit the ruling ANC in what he calls a “desperate political ploy” to misquote him intentionally when he said at the party’s rally in Dobsonville that he voted for Nelson Mandela in the 1990s.
Maimane would have been 14 years old when the country went to the polls for the first democratic elections in 1994, but would have been legally allowed to vote in the 1999 elections. However, it was Thabo Mbeki running for the presidency that year and not Madiba.
On Monday Twitter exploded with the hashtag #ThingsMmusiDid and users did not hold back in giving Maimane a cyberbeating.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday at the Donkin Reserve, a historical landmark in Nelson Mandela Bay, against an art piece symbolising Madiba and with just a day to go before local government elections, Maimane was visibly agitated, saying that the ANC had gone out of its way to “misappropriate” what he had said over the weekend.
“There are certain ministers who are swindlers, in fact liars is the only word I would use for them. Cronies who are Jacob Zuma’s cheerleaders, who fail to understand the basics in reading a statement,” said Maimane.
Maimane went on to read to the media an excerpt of his speech made at the DA’s rally in Soweto on Saturday. And said he felt it critical to “set the record straight”.
“I voted here in Dobsonville for the first time in 1999, I never said I voted in 1994. We knew what we had to do, we had to vote for the man that helped liberate us, the party of Nelson Mandela. There was no debate, we were ANC, the ANC was us and that’s how everyone I knew voted. We did it for Madiba.
“Back then as a young man barely 20 years old, I could not imagine where the ANC would abandon its values, abandon its people and abandon me, close quote,” said Maimane.
Responding to a question, Maimane dismissed accusations that the party did not use its own leaders to further its campaign. He added that such accusations were misleading when former leaders were campaigning across the country to get the party’s message to voters.
“The values of Nelson Mandela are values that will only be continued in one organisation and that is the DA, his values are what we are contesting for, I’ve never contested for his membership.”
He argued that the best branch of the ANC was the branch where Nelson Mandela was at “up in heaven” and what was left behind were Zuma’s cheerleaders who did not “understand reconciliation.”
“We will always, and I’m not ashamed to say this, I will say this proudly and boldly, we will always stand for the values of Nelson Mandela and this election is about doing it for uTata Nelson Mandela, for the future of this country so we all know what a non-racial South Africa is,” he said.
Maimane further dismissed the notion of these values being exclusive to one party.
“This is not a suggestion that non-racialism must be something to the exclusion of one party or another, we have always contested for these values,” he said.
“Even in the initial treason trial men and women came together non-racially from different political strands fighting for a South Africa for all. To suddenly exclusively make it ANC, is an error that we make – its the ANC campaign to airbrush where South African’s have fought for non-racialism.”
– African News Agency (ANA)