James: I would have been disappointed if I did not run

2015-05-10 17:16
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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WATCH: Helen Zille announces Mmusi Maimane as DA leader to huge cheers

2015-05-10 13:43

Mmusi Maimane has been announced leader of the DA after an internal vote during the party's federal congress. Watch the moment Helen Zille makes the announcement...WATCH

Port Elizabeth - Defeated DA leader candidate Wilmot James told News24 on Sunday that he was disappointed that he had lost, but would have been even more disappointed if he did not enter the race.

Speaking shortly after the highly contested elections in Port Elizabeth James said: “Of course I am disappointed, I mean I was out to win and believe I did well and that I achieved some key goals in terms of transparency over debates.

“I think that was a very good goal and it set a precedent... and transparency when it comes to divulging party finance. This is an important thing to me so I am very happy about that.”

James said despite having what he believed was a good campaign team, led by DA MP David Maynier, he lost the race.

“I did well but I did not win... I think that it was an excellent campaign and I am very proud of my team. In fact I would have been so disappointed if I didn't run. I think that I did well but unfortunately I did not win, but that is fine," he said. 

He congratulated newly elected DA leader Mmusi Maimane on his victory.

“He [Mmusi] will be the party leader in parliament and therefore that means he will be in charge of the caucus. And I have a specific role within that caucus as the health portfolio’s spokesperson and shadow minister for health so I will do that and obviously pursue that task with the usual vigour within the overall framework that’s set in terms of the DA's overall approach in policies,” he said.


James offered Maimane some advice. “He needs to stay focused on what it is that he wants to achieve and the most immediate goal is to try and win as many municipalities as possible for the 2016 elections. The way to do it is to focus on the needs of voters and this I have been saying during my campaign."

When asked how he felt about facing his colleagues after the highly contested election, he said: "The fact of the matter is that we disagreed with some main things and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not his enemy. I am nobody’s enemy."

“What has to happen now is that unity is everything in terms of pursuing our goals in the party. We need cooperation from all sides and I trust that that will happen.”

James also addressed comments made by veteran journalist Allister Sparks about apartheid-era prime-minister Hendrik Verwoerd on Saturday during his tribute to former DA leader Helen Zille.

Sparks' comments were highly criticised after he said that Verwoerd was intelligent.

“I think it was the most regrettable comment. Whatever his intention was at the time, it was just a bad idea. It was a really bad idea to speak about Hendrik Verwoerd on that platform. He could have spoken about a whole lot of other people,” James said.

“I mean, Allister Sparks is an honourable man and he is not someone that would hark back to apartheid like that."

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  wilmot james  |  port elizabeth  |  politics

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