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By Citizen Reporter


Leadership must ‘account’ for DA’s ‘devastating’ loss of Joburg – Maimane

The former DA leader defended coalition governments and criticised those in the party who wanted to 'remain in opposition forever'. 

In an interview with EWN, former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane was asked if he believed the party’s leadership should take responsibility for losing the key Johannesburg and Tshwane metros after his departure, in the same way he was made to take responsibility for a drop in the party’s support at the May 8 elections.

Maimane said yes, albeit in his usual diplomatic way.

“When you make a decision as a leader, you must live with both the outcomes of it,” he told his interviewer Clement Manyathela.

“Whatever happens, the collective leadership across the different parties must be able to account for this particular issue,” he added.

Maimane said Joburg falling to the ANC was “devastating” for him and that he was “disappointed”.

READ MORE: People’s Dialogue received ‘overwhelming’ response, says Mashaba

“I’m not convinced what took place in Joburg is for the best interests of the residents of Joburg,” he said.

Throughout the interview, Maimane said he had always wanted the DA-led coalition party in Johannesburg to work.

“When these metros were being formulated, there some within the leadership of the DA who said no I don’t think we should coalesce in this place. I fought hard for it,” he said.

He said what was needed was to ask the people what they thought was “best for them in Joburg” and repeated his assertion – mentioned before in the interview – that coalition governments were the future of SA politics.

He said that this often meant working with parties you didn’t agree with, in a likely reference to the EFF, which the DA co-operated with in governing Johannesburg under former mayor Herman Mashaba, a move that was criticised by many within the DA.

Maimane has made his loyalty to Mashaba clear, describing him as a “hero” at a briefing to announce the former mayor’s resignation.

“One party dominance delivers state capture, so it becomes a question of how do we make coalitions work?” Maimane said.

He added this would require parties to “rise above narrow political interests”.

He wouldn’t answer a question on whether he thought the loss of the two metros had something to do with the return of former leader and recently appointed federal council chairperson Helen Zille.

He also skirted around a question as to what advice he’d give DA interim leader John Steenhuisen.

“I wanted to focus on this one South Africa for all, making sure the DA grew … to other parts of the country. He may have his own project,” Maimane said.

Another question about the DA was deflected by the former leader telling Manyathela to “ask them”.

The former leader repeated his admission that he realised the DA was not the party he had thought it was.

He said the country appeared to be “regressing”, with people voting along racial lines, and that this was the reason for the party’s reduced support at the polls.

He added that some within his former party “weren’t that committed to that vision felt that they needed to personalise it and attack me at that level and that’s when I realised maybe this is not the vehicle I thought it was,” he said.

He added that he wished the party well and was now focusing on his future.

Elsewhere, he criticised those within the DA who didn’t believe race should be a factor when it came to the party’s policies.

READ MORE: Maimane and Mashaba team up to start ‘The People’s Dialogue’

“If you don’t see that I’m black, you don’t see me,” he said.

“Being black is something I’m proud of.

“Diversity isn’t just being colourblind, it’s celebrating the diversity of people.

He said under his leadership, he hoped the “DA had the ambition to grow among the majority of South Africans, black South Africans, not at the exclusion of white people”.

He said that he later realised not everyone in the party shared this ideal and that there were those in the party who seemed to want to “remain in opposition forever”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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