Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he believes South Africa is heading toward a “crisis of governance”.
Speaking at the Brenthurst Foundation, Maimane said: “Institutional politics in our country needs disruption, I think there’s a mistrust between citizens and the political infrastructure, and ultimately that will lead us into a crisis of governance”.
He told the foundation the South African electorate was motivated by race, reflecting a political landscape last seen in 1994.
“In a shrinking economy, there is [a] greater sense of ‘me’ and a greater sense of ‘us’ as defined by old historical paradigms of race.
“Therefore, naturally, people are electing public representatives that say, ‘well he or she speaks for me because we share the same melanin’.
“The challenge with that is that it retrenches a history of racial polarisation and prospectively going forward. I think you’ll see our politics being much the same as it was in ’94 where people go to the polls to express their race rather than a new South Africa and their own hopes”.
Maimane explained the project of a unified South Africa was much harder than “a mono-racial” project.
In this regard, he said, the Spingboks’ victory had lessons of unity for South Africa and a racially polarised society.
“What we need is to learn something from the current victory in South Africa which is the Springbok rugby team. There are some important lessons there that say we don’t unite because of race, we unite because of particular goals, particular objects.
“We need to be able to frame the South African objective afresh,” Maimane said.
“The beauty about the Springboks is that when they arrived in the country, they were not standing for a race or a class.”
Last month, Maimane announced his resignation from the DA and parliament.
In his resignation, he said: “The DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building one South Africa for all.”
In a separate interview, Maimane said: “I ultimately felt two weeks ago that I faced the stark choice between either reforming the DA into a movement that could either speak to future generations or actually working towards a new movement that would achieve the change that we need in this country.”
In an exclusive interview with eNCA, Maimane said the past national elections results indicated that South Africa voters were motivated by race instead of a “new South Africa”.
He added there were individuals in the DA who were not interested in a non-racial society.
“If we reflect, starting in the elections in 2019, when we lost a number of votes – and I think it was a setback for the organisation – it became a signal to people that the project as we articulated it wasn’t always going to get rewarded.
“As an outcome of elections, if you look at the electoral results in May this year, it became clear that in some ways our country is fraught with a racial polarisation. It became clear that a few South Africans happen to not want a project of a reconciled South Africa that redresses historical injustices.”
Maimane told eNCA some of them existed within the DA, which made his job difficult.
“It so happened that some happened to be at an institute, and it so happened that others happened to find themselves in the DA. It’s those particular individuals who then, over a period of time, made leading the organisation harder.”