Embattled DA leader Mmusi Maimane is refusing to cower as he prepares for a greater onslaught from some within his own party.
Maimane has featured prominently in recent reports that detail scandals over his rented home and a donated car he was using in the Western Cape.
The DA leader, in a wide-ranging sit-down interview, reiterated to News24 that leaks and allegations of wrongdoing levelled against him were nothing more than a smear campaign from some within the party’s ranks who do not agree over the direction it should be taking.
“There are only a few individuals who cannot win an argument at all in structures provided for in the party. They simply want to go run it in public … we will not surrender that war, we will not stay back,” said Maimane.
“We are continuing to fight for the future of this party, and I’m certainly committed to the battle in whatever form it takes,” he added.
On Sunday, Rapport revealed Maimane had driven around for months in a car donated to the DA by disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Marcus Jooste after he indicated it would be returned.
That same day, the Sunday Times reported that Mike Waters, a senior DA member and MP, had demanded to see proof if Maimane was indeed paying his own rent at his R4 million Claremont home in Cape Town.
The DA leader had declared the home in the parliamentary assets registry, even though he did not own the property and was only renting it.
Maimane, in clarifying the issues to News24, said the house was bought by his business partner through a company that was linked to his family trust.
He claimed the DA had never treated Steinhoff with kid gloves when its accounting scandal broke, but several factors played a role in those months that prevented him from seeking alternative transport, such as being out of the country or being mostly based in Gauteng.
“Much has been made about this delay question, but frankly when a decision was made to say let the vehicle be sent back, and it was handed back to Steinhoff,” said Maimane.
While a probe seems to have been launched into these claims, Maimane and those aligned to him will have to prepare themselves for a greater battle ahead in the form of the DA’s federal council. This is where these issues are likely to resurface along with a debate over the party’s future.
“The future of the DA is a much bigger issue, the future of non-racialism is a much bigger issue,” said Maimane, who described the scandals and issues around his leadership as merely sideline and small issues.
He added the federal council was set for October 18, when a review of the party’s lacklustre election performance will come under scrutiny. It will also focus on the future of the DA as well as electing a new federal executive council chairperson.
“We must demonstrate to South Africans that this is a party that is changing,” said Maimane.