Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane was reportedly taken to task this week by his three most senior colleagues in Parliament over his comments on white privilege made during a rally on Freedom Day.
While addressing DA supporters in Soshanguve, Pretoria, Maimane at the time said South Africans had to confront “white privilege and black poverty” to bring about the true meaning of freedom.
The City Press reports that during a heated caucus meeting on Thursday, the DA’s chief whip John Steenhuisen, his deputy Mike Waters, and MP Natasha Mazzone allegedly took Maimane on. They were reportedly supported by DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia.
The senior MPs are said to be frightened of alienating white voters ahead of next year’s general election, particularly because the DA wants to take control of Gauteng from the governing ANC.
The meeting has apparently been described by party insiders as an “orchestrated attack” on Maimane.
The trigger of the confrontation is said to be fears by some DA members about how the thorny issue of diversity and race within the party will affect their positions, as well as the impact this will have on jobs for senior white DA members in parliament and in government.
Maimane remains defiant
On Saturday, Maimane told City Press that he was not apologetic for his Freedom Day comments and his stance on the need for change in the DA.
At the party’s recently held Federal Congress in April, the DA’s federal executive rejected the wording of his proposed diversity clause, which was criticised for bordering on a race quota.
“I firmly stand by the comments I made during the party’s Freedom Day celebrations. This is because South Africa remains a deeply unequal society in which black South Africans remain locked out of opportunities, even after 24 years of democracy.
“The systemic consequences of apartheid still remain. The ANC has done little to break down this inequality and as the DA we want to break these barriers down,” Maimane was quoted as saying.