In an interview on the Eusebius McKaiser show on 702 on Tuesday, federal chairperson of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Athol Trollip opened up about the party’s declining support following its losses in the May 8 elections as well as the scandal surrounding a car donated by Steinhoff to the party and driven by its leader Mmusi Maimane.
“Mmusi Maimane and Geordin Hill-Lewis had gone for a fundraising interview [at Steinhoff] and Geordin Hill-Lewis’ car would not start in the carpark. They were seen pushing the car in the carpark after the interview. One of the directors said ‘this is ridiculous’, and he offered a vehicle and the vehicle was offered to the Democratic Alliance for the use of the leader and Mmusi Maimane used it,” Trollip said.
According to Trollip, once “the Steinhoff bubble burst” there was “some speculation that the car was not returned immediately”, which is now being investigated.
As for the outcome of the fundraising interview, the DA “did get money from Steinhoff, the quantum of which I have no idea, as I do not work with the money,” Trollip admitted.
In December 2017, furniture company Steinhoff lost over R100 billion in 48 hours due to what it described as accounting irregularities, with its CEO Markus Jooste accused of involvement in what has been described as the greatest case of corporate fraud in South African history. The company’s collapse saw an estimated 20 billion in pension money for ordinary South Africans lost.
Trollip also discussed the declining support the DA suffered in the last elections. He said one of the reasons for this decline in votes was that the DA had become complacent due to having “taken for granted” it would get electoral support from certain communities.
According to Trollip – who became the party’s federal chairperson after he was removed as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor through a motion of no confidence from the ANC, EFF and UDM – the DA “scored many own goals” prior to the elections, leading to it having to constantly “explain” itself.
He said this was a disaster because “if you are explaining in politics, then you’re losing” and therefore people started “doubting” the DA because of excessive “contextualising and equivocating”.
He also said those within the DA who dismissed voters that had flocked to the FF+ or other parties, branding this shift as a case of “good riddance”, were wrong to do so.
He said DA leaders and members who thought this way were thinking of politics and themselves in “purist” terms and “purists are very exclusive people… and that is the most shortsighted thing to do in politics”.
The full interview can be listened to below, courtesy of 702.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)