DA faction considering a split – report

Former opposition leader Tony Leon joins the Democratic Alliance's premier candidate for Gauteng Solly Msimanga, on an anti-corruption march in Johannesburg, 24 April 2019. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)

Any proposed split will only take place after May 8’s elections, if it happens at all.

Disputes over policy have resulted in senior members of the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), considering breaking away to form a new political party, Bloomberg reports.

The publication alleges that some within the DA feel certain policies show a shift away from the party’s liberal roots.

The emphasis on the securing of South Africa’s borders, as well as internal conflict over the party’s handling of black economic empowerment, are cited as examples of this.

According to Bloomberg, the proposed split has advanced to the stage that talks about securing funding for a new party have already been held. Any plans for a split will, however, be put off until after the May 8 elections.

The publication suggests there’s a “strong chance” that the faction will choose to try to change the DA internally rather than splitting.

According to DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi, however, Bloomberg’s claims of a proposed split “are wholly incorrect.”

“The entire leadership of the DA is united in presenting our offer of building ‘One South Africa for all’ by bringing South Africans from diverse background to steer our country back to the path of prosperity,” he added.

In a March 18 interview, DA leader Mmusi Maimane also dismissed claims a split was being discussed by anyone in the party.

READ MORE: Maimane’s future uncertain amid alleged plans to oust him – report

In January, Malatsi responded to reports that there were two rival factions within the DA, with the one pushing for Maimane’s removal depending on how the party did in the elections, by similarly saying these reports were “completely false”.

This followed former DA chief whip for Emfuleni Simon Nkosi telling eNCA that a faction calling for Maimane’s removal was well known, and had originated even before Maimane’s re-election as DA leader in 2018.

“There’s a group of people campaigning, going around, saying [at] the next national congress Mmusi needs to go out. I know of it. We’ve been contacted so many times,” he said at the time.

Whether the faction Bloomberg reports as wanting to split consists of Maimane’s supporters or detractors is unclear.

eNCA has reported, however, that the “liberal” faction within the DA wants to see the back of Maimane.

The Citizen also reported in January that according to analysts Somadoda Fikeni and Ralph Mathekga, the resignation of head of policy Gwen Ngwenya was a minor disaster for the party and clearly showed that it was divided.

This appears to be in line with what Daily Maverick reported in August 2018. The publication said there was a battle of wills within the party between “traditional liberals” and “a more radical faction bent on racial transformation”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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