“They care about the Western Cape and maintaining power. They have given up on the national project and are going back to the historic voters of the party, and abandoning the rest.”
FORMER DA leader Mmusi Maimane has placed the party’s leader, John Steenhuisen, and federal council chairperson, HeIen Zille, at the centre of the party’s poor performance in the 2019 election.
“John and Helen do not care about fixing the problems of this nation. They care about the Western Cape and maintaining power. They have given up on the national project and are going back to the historic voters of the party, and abandoning the rest. It’s obvious.
“Now why did the DA lose in 2019. I wanted us to grow our voter base among the middle class and the youth. That requires speaking about issues that matter to them. John and Helen closed that gate. As you can see from their present messaging and tactics.
“As a leader I can’t go to a university student and say there is no white privilege, race is not a factor in South Africa. I would be lying to them and they would call me out. I would be naive to think that voters were not looking at how diverse the DA is in Parliament,” Maimane said.
He broke his silence on Sunday after Steenhuisen told the Sunday Times that Maimane was the reason the party did not win during 2019’s general elections.
Steenhuisen was also quoted as saying a possible coalition could be formed with the ANC – only if Cyril Ramaphosa was still leader and his deputy David Mabuza and the ANC’s secretary-general Ace Magashule were not part of it.
Maimane replied: “Today the DA is saying they are open to coalition with some factions of the ANC as long as @CyrilRamaphosa is the president. They are officially out of opposition and are themselves a faction of the ANC. It’s an admission of defeat. A recognition that they can’t grow …”
Steenhuisen said he had been speaking specifically “about bringing the ANC under 50% and building a new majority at the rational centre to keep the radical left out of the driving seat”.
“If a new majority is not built and the radical left/RET (radical economic transformation) factions gain power the country will be headed on to the path to Venezuela. Building a new majority at the centre, made up of reformists and constitutionalists from all parties who share the values of non-racialism, a social market economy, respect for the rule of law and less state control to drive the reform and growth agenda is the only path to prosperity, and the only way to prevent the implementation of radical populist policies.
“This is why the DA mission is ‘to be the core of a new majority by 2024, to realise the open opportunity for all’,” said Steenhuisen.
Zille referred enquiries to the DA spokesperson who had not responded by deadline.
The ANC did not respond to enquiries by deadline.
About a possible coalition, political analyst Keith Gottschalk said “nothing could have been more unpredictable but this could happen in municipal elections”.
“It is possible if one party got more than 50% of the votes. And this was the case in Beaufort West a few years ago when the DA and ANC factions formed a coalition when they wanted to keep a third party out.
“It comes at the right moment, where Ramaphosa’s opposition can call RET to smear Ramaphosa of white capitalism. It may not happen at the moment but once 2024 elections come around, parties will scramble to find reliable coalition partners,” said Gottschalk.