Reports this week, including on Sunday, suggest that among the many reasons for a pushback against his presidency of the DA is criticism by Mmusi Maimane’s opponents in the party of the way he handled a R500,000 donation given to Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign team by controversial facilities management company Bosasa.
A complaint brought by Maimane about the donation spilt over into a damning and embarrassing report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who ended up investigating all donations to Ramaphosa campaign.
She even found that the CR17 team may have been guilty of money laundering, which the presidency has dismissed as evidence that Mkhwebane was misusing the term.
Mkhwebane further found that Ramaphosa had misled parliament about the donation, even if inadvertently.
Ramaphosa and his lawyers have slammed the report and taken it on legal review.
If unsuccessful, Mkhwebane’s findings and recommendations would pose a threat to Ramaphosa’s chances of continuing as the country’s president.
If Ramaphosa were to go, this would most likely elevate Deputy President David Mabuza to the top job in the country, a prospect Mabuza’s critics have warned would have South Africa wishing for the return of Jacob Zuma.
A recent book by former Mpumalanga ANC deputy chairperson David Dube, titled Al Capones of Mpumalanga, portrays Mabuza as a Machiavellian leader who will allegedly do whatever it takes to retain power.
The book has provided merely the latest in a string of allegations against Mabuza and his character over the years, though little of it has ever stuck.
Dube described his former collaborator as someone with a heartless character who would be quick to dump allies.
“He is more like a boss than a leader. He can easily be dubbed the main Al Capone of Mpumalanga.”
DA insiders told Sunday World this week that Maimane’s critics have openly accused their leader of political short-sightedness in his Bosasa crusade against Ramaphosa.
A DA insider told the paper that “if Ramaphosa goes we will be left with DD Mabuza”.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba confirmed that his handling of the Bosasa donation was among the reasons Maimane is being targeted, but he slammed the DA leader’s critics as “racists hiding behind liberalism”.
Mashaba reportedly accused them of having a “problem with black leaders” and defended Maimane’s right to criticise Ramaphosa.
“Why would they have a problem that Mmusi is criticising Cyril?”
This week, the DA’s financial committee found there was no wrongdoing committed by Maimane following allegations that he drove a car bought by Steinhoff’s Markus Jooste and allegedly declared a R4 million Claremont home he was renting as his own.
In a statement, DA finance chairperson and MP Dion George said it was Maimane who referred the matter to the finance committee for an investigation, after anonymous leaks about his accommodation and travel arrangements were published by different media houses.
Following the investigation, George found: “As it relates to travel arrangements, Mr Maimane did enjoy the use of a Toyota Fortuner in the Western Cape, donated to the party by Steinhoff via their subsidiary, Hertz.
“After the Steinhoff scandal broke, the car was returned. There was a delay due in part to the leader’s international trip to the USA and a Federal Congress taking place in Gauteng.”
Maimane was also cleared on the details around his home.
George said he found no financial illegality on behalf of Maimane, pertaining to both the house and the car, despite City Press originally reporting that Maimane had declared the Claremont home in the parliamentary assets registry as his own, even though the house did not belong to him.
In the wake of what Maimane has described as a smear campaign against him following the fallout from the DA’s worse-than-expected electoral results, the DA leader has called for an early elective conference to be held to test the faith his party members still have in his leadership.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)