I haven’t spoken to Zille since I resigned – Maimane

The former DA leader admits he feels John Steenhuisen should have been ‘upfront’ about his intention of replacing him, but says he feels ‘no bitterness’.

Former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane revealed in an interview on eNCA on Tuesday that the last time he spoke to the party’s federal council chairperson Helen Zille was on the day of his resignation.

The last time they interacted was “effectively on my day of resignation, and I certainly communicated my message to her as she’s the person who processes all of that and… I think that is sufficient,” he told interviewer Samkele Maseko.

“I haven’t needed to because I have now focused on what my life is about and what my mission is about.”

Maseko then turned his attention to John Steenhuisen, who was appointed as chief whip by Maimane and was considered his right-hand man, but is now running to become the party’s interim leader following the former DA leader’s departure.

“Your chief whip is gunning to take over your job,” said Maseko.

Maimane responded: “It’s his right to do so, anyone in the DA can do that work and I think it’s part of the work that has been happening in the organisation and I think if he wants to contest and win he must continue and lead the organisation the way he wants to lead it.

“I certainly have different objectives set on the table.”

READ MORE: DA slams ‘mainstream media’ for ‘lies’ about its internal struggles

Asked if he felt betrayed by Steenhuisen’s attempts to lead the party he left, Maimane said: “It would have been preferable for me to have known up front.”

However, he added: “I hold no bitterness towards anyone in the DA, I am really not even concerned about what takes place in its current leadership formulation, the project is bigger than any individual.”

He did appear to reference the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which launched a campaign focused on the DA called ‘Save the Opposition’ and admitted to trying to “interfere” with the party’s direction. One of their recommendations was for Maimane to step down.

He referred to them as being among the South Africans who “happened to not want a project of a reconciled South Africa that redresses historical injustices.

“Some happened to be in an institute and others happened to find themselves in the DA”, he said.

In an interview with Power FM prior to his departure as DA leader, Maimane called the IRR a “right-wing movement” and expressed the view that the think thank’s campaign constituted overreach.

“If the IRR must involve itself in internal party policy, it’s an overstepping of its job. It’s supposed to provide ideas and ideals,” he said.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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