The strange strategic choices of the DA

2018-09-18 06:41
DA Leader Mmusi Maimane. (Photo by Gallo Images, Daily Sun, Lindile Mbontsi)

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane. (Photo by Gallo Images, Daily Sun, Lindile Mbontsi)

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DA leader Mmusi Maimane's possible decision to become the DA's candidate for premier of the Western Cape could open the party up for even more internal conflict, analysts say.

Maimane's spokesperson, Portia Adams, confirmed to City Press on the weekend that the party was discussing the possibility of the leader becoming the premier candidate.

While the DA's support in the Western Cape is reportedly down, it is unlikely that it will lose control of the province, making the deployment of their national leader there strategically strange, political analyst Ralph Mathekga says.

"It's a bad move and an indication of a severe lack of leadership and self-confidence. Maimane has just made himself irrelevant at national level. Parliament is the perfect place to express the strategic objectives of the party. Who cares what the premier of the Western Cape has to say," he says.

"It's very clear to me that there is some sort of conflict going on in the DA. By making himself available for the premiership Maimane has made himself an active part of that conflict instead of being someone who can mediate it. He has lost an opportunity to resolve the conflict."

Mathekga adds that if Maimane had decided to run for the premiership of Gauteng it would've been a different story as that is a platform the DA can compete for the national leadership of the country from.

UCT associate professor and political analyst Richard Calland agrees and says that the move could be interpreted as a sign of weakness, since the DA has said that Gauteng is their number one prize. 

"Gauteng is the economic hub of South Africa and there is a much bigger opportunity for the DA there. It could happen that the election results in Gauteng might be hung and the DA gets the opportunity to form of a coalition government there. Why not have your national leader at the centre of those negotiations," he says.

If Maimane becomes Western Cape premier, that would also open up the position of leader of the opposition in Parliament, potentially creating room for even more tension in the party. 

"When Lindiwe Mazibuko was leader of the party in Parliament, after a while there was a certain degree of tension between her and party leader Helen Zille. In a way, it's inevitable as you need someone strong to lead the opposition in Parliament because they have to lead the attack against government from the opposition benches. But when you have someone strong in that position it could happen that it creates tension with the leader of the party," says Calland.

Another interesting consequence of Maimane becoming premier is that it would mean the DA would have someone else at the top of their national list, implying that if they win the national election and form a government, Maimane would not become president. Of course, it's highly unlikely that they would win.

Mathekga says that Maimane's "dictatorial tendency" to catapult himself to the top position after several people in the DA have already gone through the application process is cause for further concern. 

Frontrunners who had already gone through the selection process included MP David Maynier, MEC for economic opportunities Alan Winde as well as MEC for Human Settlements and DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.

As leader of the DA it is Maimane's prerogative to take up any position in the party.

The DA is expected to announce its decision on Tuesday.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane

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