Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane’s different approach in canvassing for new voters ahead of the looming national elections has caused a stir, but political analyst Ralph Mathekga says Maimane identifying inequality and white privilege may be what the party needs to increase its voting power.
“In South Africa, we cannot speak about transformation without speaking about the relationship between black and white. We cannot deny that,” Mathekga said, who commends Maimane for his bold statements on inequality.
The DA leader made the remarks during a Freedom Day address to supporters in Soshanguve, Pretoria.
Maimane during his address to DA supporters said South Africans had to confront “white privilege and black poverty” to bring about the true meaning of freedom.
Mathekga was speaking during an interview on radio station Metro FM, and said Maimane was bold to touch on white privilege and poverty. He said the conversation had, however, received an outcry from the party.
“The DA needs to think about where it stands in regards to black people as they had reached a ceiling mathematically in terms of voters.”
“Mathematically … there is no way that the DA will be able to increase its electoral basis […] if it doesn’t reach out to the ‘black middle class’. For me, there is just no more that the DA can squeeze from its white constituents … ”
Mathekga said if the DA wanted to grow electorally, they needed to “genuinely start speaking to black people”, and he said Maimane was trying to do exactly that.
He affirmed that Maimane’s comment did have intent to gain more voters ahead of the 2019 elections, but he thought the “inequality and white privilege” conversation was long overdue and was welcome.
Maimane “listened to people”, and the backlash he received for the comments were an indication that “there are those within the DA who are not willing to listen to the idea that there is such a thing such as white privilege”.
“The DA needs to think about where it stands in relation to the pride of black people in particular,” Mathekga said, adding: “You cannot attempt to rewrite history without denying the structural impact that it had on the opportunities that black people were denied opportunities.”
“Even today, let’s just be honest, when you walk across the street at night, even today when a black man comes, there is a presumption of crime. When a white person comes, there is a presumption of innocence and so forth.
“We still have these things that we are dealing with in society.”