We are a diverse leadership: Maimane

2015-05-10 16:27
The DA's Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James took place in a televised debate, hours before they went head to head over the leadership of the party.

The DA's Mmusi Maimane and Wilmot James took place in a televised debate, hours before they went head to head over the leadership of the party. (Eugene Gunning/Die Burger)

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Helen Zille chooses Vulindlela as her swan song at DA congress

2015-05-10 15:09

Singing just before the announcement that Mmusi Maimane would be the new DA leader, Helen Zille sang Brenda Fassie's Vulindlela as a fitting swan song. WATCH

Port Elizabeth - The newly elected leadership of the Democratic Alliance is diverse, and represents the values of late former president Nelson Mandela, party leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

"One of my greatest heroes is Nelson Mandela."

"We are a diverse leadership. That is the dream of Nelson Mandela. With his passing, his values... will live on in our party," he told reporters in Port Elizabeth, shortly after being elected leader.

He said Wilmot James, who was his opposing candidate, still had a role to play in the party.

"My commitment is to build a united party. People like Wilmot James have a role to play in the party. We don't unite behind a person. We unite behind values," Maimane said.

"We are not a purging party," he added and this sentiment was echoed by newly elected federal chairperson Athol Trollip.

"At this party, when you lose you don't get kicked out of the herd. The party does not have any outcasts."

Maimane was asked whether he would step down as leader if the party's claim that it would capture the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in next year's local government elections did not happen. "

He said he had just been elected leader, and to "already be planning an exit strategy would be wrong".

He said he would still remain the party's parliamentary leader.

In response to a question on whether the party would make inroads in rural communities with Maimane as a black leader, he said hard work was the only way to grow the DA.

"Those who say we are a white party are misleading the country. "

He also said the party did not set quotas for the amount of females in leadership positions.

"We must never forget that [former leader] Helen Zille is a female," he said to chuckles from journalists.

"A female leader I mean," he then clarified.

He said he had enjoyed working with Zille, and would still need to talk to her about what she was going to do now.

Sparks comments

Maimane said on Sunday that he disagreed with comments made by veteran journalist Allister Sparks on apartheid-era prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd at the party's congress.

During a farewell tribute to Zille at the party's federal congress in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, Sparks said he had known several intelligent politicians "including Hendrik Verwoerd" and many other "dull and stupid" ones.

This prompted extensive criticism of Sparks on social media sites.

"I as a South African know the work of Allister Sparks... he fought against apartheid and yesterday [Saturday] he came to pay tribute to Helen Zille," Maimane said.

"I disagree with his comment on Verwoerd, but then I am entitled to have my own view as he is entitled to have his own view.

"But we should never say that someone like Allister Sparks, who has fought against Verwoerd, in fact supports his policies. I think that as we sit here as a party, we have been quite clear and in saying that we deplore the policies of apartheid."

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

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