Can the shattered DA pick up the pieces?
The Democratic Alliance faces a critical period of rebuilding and will need credible leaders to arrest the slide, says a political analyst.
Graphic: Costa Matola
Graphic: Costa Matola
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The project to have strong opposition in South Africa has been derailed with the resignations of the big three from the Democratic Alliance (DA) – former leader Mmusi Maimane, federal chairperson Athol Trollip and outgoing Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba.
This is the view of a prominent political analyst, Daniel Silke.
Silke said with the trio gone, the DA now faces an extended and very uncertain period of attempted recovery. “Their optics, strategies and messaging on a variety of fronts has seen them become their own worst enemy – and they have also walked right into the narrative created by their political enemies.”
With Maimane and Trollip having quit their positions, the DA and the opposition in South Africa would suffer a blow to the leadership.
“The DA will be weakened, perhaps returning to a more niched, limited role while forgoing the power politics they have let slip. But other players can emerge,” Silke said.
Silke said the change in the party leadership core will surely impact seriously on its support in the short to medium term.
“They can’t go on without losing support, especially in the black townships and Afrikaner areas. These target markets will feel disillusioned with the events in the DA.
“Remember that leadership issues always create some negative perception of the party.
“The DA will struggle to maintain its support levels which were under strain for some time.
“They will only be able to recoup their support if they manage to attract more credible leaders who will be able to arrest the slide to some degree,” he said.
“If they do, they may be able to return the party electoral performance to the pre-May election levels,” Silke said.
By electing Helen Zille as federal council chair and driving the party to the right, Silke believes the DA shot itself in the foot and played into the hands of its critics.
However, he expressed doubt if the party would lose too much core support from the leafy suburbs, but results of the recent election and by-elections showed that the middle class and Afrikaners are disillusioned with the party.
The Cape Town based-political analyst was commenting in a series of tweets and in an interview with The Citizen following this week’s high-level resignations.
Maimane, who initially resigned only as party leader, yesterday announced that he was also stepping down also as DA MP and the party’s parliamentary leader.
In a tweet early yesterday, Maimane said: “I have worked tirelessly to build the project of One SA for All.
“It’s been my greatest honour to serve the people of SA and I will continue to do so.
“I have today resigned from the DA and parliament. Thank you to the people of this country for your faith in our nation. God bless SA.”
Observers said there was no way that Maimane could have carried on serving the party in parliament after expressing a lack of confidence in its ability to accommodate all South Africans.
Silke said Maimane made a critical error this week when he failed to defend the party he was still leader of after Mashaba’s resignation.
Silke described Maimane’s move as “leadership misstep 101”.
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