Amid calls for his removal from within his own party, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has introduced the option of an early electoral conference, according to a report in the Mail & Guardian.
This follows a terrible week for the DA leader, following two reports over the weekend which form part of what Maimane has described as a “smear campaign” against him and an attempt by those in his party against diversity to reclaim the “old DA”.
Afrikaans newspaper Rapport reported over the past weekend that Maimane drove around in a car that was a gift from Steinhoff and its disgraced former boss, Markus Jooste. He stands accused of keeping the car for a period of time despite the party committing to return it as soon as the Steinhoff scandal broke.
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.
On Thursday, Herman Pretorius of the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) wrote an opinion piece suggesting that Maimane should be replaced by Western Cape premier Alan Winde.
Winde responded by slamming the IRR piece for its “regrettable” focus on race – the article said the “seed of the DA’s recovery has been planted by a white man in the Western Cape” – and saying he was not interested in replacing the DA leader.
This is not Maimane’s first call for an early elective conference.
TimesLive reported on September 23 that he proposed this at the opening address at the party’s federal executive meeting, in an attempt to confront those within the party seeking to get rid of him.
Following the significant losses the DA experienced in the May 8 elections, the party publicly stood by Maimane with then deputy federal chairperson Athol Trollip saying he would remain the party leader until the next federal congress in 2021.
“Any talk of a change of leadership before a federal congress must be dispelled. As the leadership of the party, at both a national and provincial level, we are unambiguous in our support for Mr Maimane who has led the DA with exemption since the 2015 Nelson Mandela Bay Federal Congress, and his unopposed election in 2018,” Trollip said.
There have, however, been alleged plots to oust the DA leader since before the elections.
According to TimesLive: “Waters belongs to a group within the DA caucus, the self-styled ‘1959 committee’, that feels the party has lost its liberal values and direction under Maimane.”
City Press reported in January that a group within the DA is believed to be pushing for the Maimane’s removal.
This after eNCA interviewed former DA chief whip for Emfuleni, Simon Nkosi, who said the alleged plot to remove Maimane was “well known” within the party. The news network reported at the time that it was the “liberal” faction within the party who wanted to see the back of the DA leader.
This appears to be in line with what Daily Maverick reported in August 2018. The publication said that there was a battle of wills within the party between “traditional liberals” and “a more radical faction bent on racial transformation”.
DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi, who told The Citizen back in January that reports detailing alleged attempts by the “liberal faction” within the DA to get rid of Maimane were “completely false”, seems to have now changed his tune, saying the way what is happening to Maimane has played out indicates “malicious intentions”.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)