On Wednesday, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane expanded on claims made on Twitter of a “smear campaign” against him following two reports over the weekend painting him in a negative light, telling EWN he believed false information about him was being planted by those within the DA wanting to see the back of him.
Afrikaans newspaper Rapport reported over the past weekend that Maimane drove around for months in a car that was a gift from Steinhoff and its disgraced former boss, Markus Jooste.
The weekend also saw a Sunday Times report that following accusations from DA MP Mike Waters, some party members are now demanding to see proof that Maimane was paying his own rent at his Cape Town home. An anonymous source revealed to the publication that Waters allegedly demanded bank statements from Maimane to determine how much rent he paid.
According to Maimane, those gunning for him within the DA are against diversity and want the return of the “old DA”.
“People want to retain the DA as an organisation focused on the past. I wanted to bring diversity and sometimes when you bring diverse lists, some people are left out. Also, on the leadership battle in parliament, you need a diverse group that represents all South Africans,” he said.
“I will keep fighting, I will keep on fighting for that vision.”
Maimane discussed the party having received a car plus donations from Steinhoff, a company which lost over R100 billion in 48 hours in December 2017 in what has been described as the greatest case of corporate fraud in South African history. The company’s collapse saw the loss of an estimated 20 billion in pension money for ordinary South Africans.
The DA and Maimane have called for Cyril Ramaphosa to pay back donations given by hugely controversial facilities management company Bosasa, but now seems to be in a similar situation since Trollip revealed that, over and above the car, the DA received money from Steinhoff.
“There was no way we could have known. The question is, what did you do when you did know? And we acted,” he said.
“I think the organisation needs to evaluate what type of relationship it had with Steinhoff and make a decision on that basis,” he added.
In an interview on 702, DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip explained how the DA and Maimane came to drive the car and said once “the Steinhoff bubble burst”, there was “some speculation that the car was not returned immediately” by Maimane, which is now being investigated by the party.
Maimane denied this, saying the party delayed returning the vehicle because it was still making arrangements to get him another car.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)