Mmusi Maimane through the eyes of his chief of staff (27)

2014-05-30 16:38

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Matthew Gerstner (27) worked 19-hour days during Mmusi Maimane’s election campaign in Gauteng. Now he has followed his boss to Parliament as his chief of staff.

Gerstner’s appointment was made on the eve of Maimane’s uncontested election as parliamentary leader yesterday.

The University of Cape Town law graduate’s rise through the ranks of the DA has been steady since he joined the party to manage national councillors in 2011.

He was seconded to Maimane’s election campaign as speech writer and operations manager, a position that has kept him on the hop now for the past nine months.

Gerstner believes that his boss is gifted in that he can relate to everyone across race, age and class divides.

“There are people in politics who choose politics because they are in it for the thrill, the fight, going for the jugular. Then there are people, like Mmusi, where politics chooses them. He can relate to every human being, he is a leader, not a manager.”

He was also impressed by Maimane’s “sharp wit and ability to make his colleagues laugh” before settling down to resolve serious matters.

Gerstner, who grew up in a “liberal, DA-supporting family” said the appointment to run the leader’s office on a second-floor wing of the Marks Building was “the most exciting thing in my life”.

Gerstner had been inspired by former DA leader Tony Leon since his days as a schoolboy at Wynberg Boys’ Junior School.

“Tony came to speak to us at the school one day. A few weeks later, I saw him, wearing a suit and tie, with a photographer on the steps of Parliament. I went home and said to my mom: ‘I want to be like Tony Leon one day.’”

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