Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
17 Oct 2019
4:23 pm

I would have preferred a ‘black female who is strong’ for federal chair – Maimane

Citizen Reporter

The DA leader said the fact that all four candidates for the position of federal chair are white is a 'concern'.

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Neil McCartney

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane was asked during a radio interview on Thursday what he thinks about the fact that the four candidates for the position for the party’s federal chair – an important role that has been compared to that of CEO of a company – are all white.

They are Helen Zille and Mike Waters – seen to be among Maimane’s detractors – as well as Athol Trollip – seen as an ally – and Thomas Walters, who has stayed away from the spotlight and declined to do interviews.

“Look, I think it is a concern,” Maimane told Power FM’s Aldrin Sampear in response to the interviewer noting that the new vacancy only has white candidates.

“One of the things I want to do is build talent moving forward,” he added, saying he would prefer “diversity of race, gender and age”.

He said it would be preferable to look for young South Africans as “political organisations need to change, need to be able to engage the future”.

“You need to be able to build a succession plan,” he added.

After he was careful not to say outright he’d prefer a black candidate, Sampear prodded the DA leader, asking him directly if he had meant to say this.

“I think it would be good for the DA to have a federal chairperson who is black,” Maimane conceded.

READ MORE: Maimane defends DA coalitions with EFF: ‘There was an equal argument with the FF+’

“I would have a black female who is strong,” he added.

“The sole job we need to do is become a party that builds a talent pipeline” that can take the party towards the future, Maimane said.

Asked elsewhere about his views on black economic empowerment (BEE), he said while he doesn’t think the policy has worked, he disagreed with former DA head of policy Gwen Ngwenya and other classical liberals who don’t want any form of affirmative action.

“We need to find an inclusive model,” he said, one for “any South Africans who have been left out – particularly black South Africans”.

He said this does not mean the DA must compromise on its policy of non-racialism.

“People sometimes want parties which say you are for me because I’m black or you are for me because I’m white,” he said, adding that the party would never embrace racial nationalism.

The party’s differences on BEE have led to tension between Maimane and members of the party who identify as classical liberals, such as Ngwenya, Gavin Davis, Mike Waters, Michael Cardo and Ghaleb Cachalia.

Ngwenya announced last year that the party had opted to abandon racial classification in its policy on redress, but this led to a furore on social media, as outgoing federal chair James Selfe denied the decision had been taken, and other DA leaders such as Zwakele Mncwango, Phumzile van Damme and Nqaba Bhanga voiced opposition to the move.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.) 

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