Maimane's moment of truth - Will the DA grow at the polls?

2019-05-08 13:19
mmusi
Mmusi Maimane at the final DA rally in Soweto on Saturday.  ~ Twitter/@Our_DA

Today's elections may prove to be the sternest test for DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane and his ANC counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, may be political opponents but in many ways, they face the same challenges – uniting a party split into two camps while ensuring strong performance at the polls to cement their grip on their leadership positions.

Maimane oversaw the DA's successful performance in the 2016 local government elections in which the party, through coalition agreements, wrestled control from the ANC in three major metros – Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay – although Athol Trollip was voted out as mayor in 2018.

The DA is now seemingly hoping to claim victory through coalition governments as it did three years ago.

"The future is coalitions at national level. It's the way the world is orientated and if we don't achieve that, then we are perpetuating a one-party state and that has brought us state capture," Maimane told News24 in a recent one-on-one interview.

He also said the best outcome would be if the DA was the major partner in a coalition, which would give it powers to lead the agreement and keep the coalition government in check.

The DA has been very vocal in the run-up to the elections. It has focused on its own polling results, which, by and large, show that the party is well on track to achieve its goals. But Maimane has insisted polls have often proven to be wrong and cannot clearly determine how the party is likely to perform.

It placed a great deal of emphasis on its campaigns in Gauteng, where it hopes to unseat the ANC or at least reduce its support to below 50%, and in the Western Cape, with an overwhelming majority.

READ: 'Ramaphosa has abandoned Durban' - Maimane's last push to woo KZN

The battle for Gauteng may prove to be a difficult one as ANC Gauteng chairperson David Makhura, who is also the outgoing premier, is popular in the province.

Interesting aspects of the DA's campaign have been the issues it focused on and the launch of Team South Africa, which was tasked with selling the idea of "One South Africa for all". The team was made up of young and energetic leaders, including Phumzile van Damme and Makashule Gana.

It has also appealed to South Africans to look at the provincial and local government arms where it has successfully governed in a bid to encourage them to trust it to do the same for other parts of the country.

Win or lose, Maimane has described the campaign period as a time of great healing and unity for the party, which has faced a series of political battles over the past year.

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