Maimane’s future uncertain amid rumours of ‘black exodus’ from DA

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane arrives at an election rally in Kwamashu near Durban, South Africa, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Amid a ‘tense’ atmosphere, rumours abound that the DA leader’s time is running out, and that others may follow him.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s spokesperson Azola Mboniswa says there’s “no truth” to the rumours that Maimane may not last the next two weeks as DA leader, following a report in News24 which quotes an anonymous insider as saying “the clock is close to midnight” for him.

A senior DA politicians, however, told The Citizen there will “probably be an exodus” of black leaders from the party.

He explained that outgoing Johannasburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s resignation had “cut deep” among those who supported him as mayor, that he himself was considering his resignation and that the “atmosphere” within the party was tense.

The politician is an ally of Mmusi Maimane. Rumours abound that the DA leader could step down following the election of Helen Zille as federal council chairperson, as opposed to the other favourite, Athol Trollip, seen as aligned to Maimane.

If this were to happen, it’s likely that other prominent DA leaders would follow Maimane, said the politician.

Zille, however, indicated she was not aware of the rumours and that she doesn’t believe they’re true if they do exist.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi agreed, saying “rumours are just that, rumours”.

Zille’s victory could be seen as a triumph for what is referred to as the DA’s “1959 committee” faction, or its “true liberals” or “classical liberals”. They are united in their opposition to any race-based policies such as BEE. Mike Waters, who also ran for federal council chair, is seen as a member of this camp.

READ MORE: Mashaba resigns as Johannesburg mayor following Zille’s return

This victory led directly to Mashaba’s resignation.

“The election of Zille stands in opposition with the people I represent and the majority of the South Africans,” he said.

“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believes race is irrelevant in a discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa in 2019,” he added.

On a Newzroom Afrika interview, Zille denied this, saying that the DA was a party which believed in redress.

“There is no one in the DA who thinks race is irrelevant,” she claimed.

“He enthusiastically joined while I was leader of the party. I have the same beliefs and values now. He needs to say what has changed. I wish him well,” Zille told The Citizen when asked for comment on Mashaba’s departure.

Maimane has reportedly angered some within his party by calling Mashaba a “friend and hero” following his resignation, at a briefing in which the outgoing mayor had nothing nice to say about his party, which he called the “most difficult” partner in his own coalition government.

“I deeply regret that the DA I signed up to is the one which emerged from this weekend’s meeting,” Mashaba said at the briefing.

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