Maimane has turned nasty - James

2015-05-07 16:43
Wilmot James and Mmusi Maimane (Eugene Gunning, Netwerk24)

Wilmot James and Mmusi Maimane (Eugene Gunning, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The battle for the leadership of the DA has taken another heated turn, with Wilmot James accusing his opponent Mmusi Maimane on Thursday of turning "nasty". 

"With three days to go before the election, Mmusi Maimane seems to be rattled," James, the party's federal chairperson, said in a statement. 

"Under major pressure after losing the leadership debate on Kyknet [on Monday], Mmusi Maimane appears to have lost his nerve and turned nasty."

James said Maimane abandoned his positive campaign by releasing an "attack piece" through his campaign manager Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Hill-Lewis's statement followed an interview with James in The Star newspaper where he reportedly said that Maimane was offering another version of the ANC, while he - James - was offering an alternative to the ruling party.

Hill-Lewis went through James's political history. 

"In 2010, one year into his first term as a DA MP, James told an interviewer that he would vote for the ANC if Trevor Manuel were its president..." Hill-Lewis claimed.

"Indeed, James worked closely with the ANC throughout the 1990s and would later describe himself in an interview as an ANC sympathiser during those years."

Hill-Lewis said James had an interesting political history, as he was involved with the Black Consciousness Movement for a couple of years in the 1970s and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the 80s.

"He was never a member of the Democratic Party, or any of its predecessor parties, and only joined the DA in August 2008 - a few months before he became a member of Parliament.

"Perhaps this is why James’s claim to be a 'liberal stalwart' rings rather hollow," Hill-Lewis said.

James said on Thursday that this "attack" was a cover for Maimane's "flip-flop" on his defence of a referendum on the death penalty.

‘We flip-flop’

Maimane, who is the DA's parliamentary leader, said during the debate he was going to build a version of the party that was more consistent and did not "flip-flop" in its stance on important issues. 

"We flip-flop on issues, we support the NDP [National Development Plan] then we don't. We support redress, then we vote for bills that are racist fundamentally. That is not what I'm trying to build. I'm trying to build a party that is consistent," he said.

Maimane was then questioned in the debate over comments he made over the possibility of a referendum on the death penalty. 

"If the people want to vote on it, the people must vote on it," he said, adding he did not agree with the penalty, however it was the democratic right of people to voice their opinions. 

James said at the time that Maimane did not understand the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  

James said on Thursday that Maimane "conceded he dropped the ball" when he called for the referendum by later telling Netwerk24: “I would stand up straight and say I don’t support a referendum on the death penalty. We shouldn’t have a referendum."

James also said that Maimane and his team had not publicly named the donors supporting his campaign. 

"With three days to go, I will not be distracted and will continue to work hard to share my positive vision for the future of our party with the delegates attending the DA's Federal Congress [in Port Elizabeth] on 09/10 May 2015."

Maimane said on Thursday that he had complied with all internal protocols regarding donors. 

"He [James] is depending on me to give him media coverage," he said. 

"Eighty-four percent of the caucus is fully supportive of my campaign. We are focused on a positive campaign. We will be pulling out the numbers [on Sunday] and we will be victorious."

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  wilmot james  |  johannesburg  |  politics

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