Maimane pleads with voters to be brave

The DA brings in crowds at a rally in Dobsonville yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
The DA brings in crowds at a rally in Dobsonville yesterday. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has moved to persuade undecided voters to make the “brave choice” and give the DA a chance when they head to the polls this week.

Maimane was addressing thousands of supporters in Dobsonville, Soweto – where he grew up – at his party’s final rally ahead of voting which will begin tomorrow for special voters.

The party leader’s address appeared to be aimed in the main at convincing those who might have concerns about voting for the DA or who fear breaking a long-standing tradition of voting for the ANC.

“You need to be brave and perhaps do something you haven’t done before when you go to vote on Wednesday,” Maimane said in an impassioned plea.

“Because I’ll tell you this about bravery. It always pays off. Sometimes not immediately. Sometimes only for a next generation. But it is always rewarded.”

The party has been campaigning on its track record of governance in the Western Cape and the municipalities it acquired during the 2016 local government elections, which include Johannesburg and capital city Tshwane.

“This is not a popularity contest. It’s not a pageant. This is about competence. I’m not asking you to marry me, I’m merely asking you to employ a government with a proven track record.”

The DA is seeking to retain the Western Cape, an effort that has been hampered by infighting in the province. Maimane has also set his sights on winning Northern Cape with an outright majority and governing Gauteng through a coalition.

The party started its election campaign on the back foot with a series of own goals.

In Tshwane then mayor Solly Msimanga, the party’s Gauteng premier candidate, was forced to resign after a series of blunders, including hiring unqualified staff.

In the Western Cape the party waged war against then Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille who has since started her own Good Party.

Maimane was forced to take a stance against former party leader Helen Zille over her infamous tweets.

Wednesday will be Maimane’s first general election as party leader after he succeeded Zille in 2015.

Speaking to City Press on Friday, Jonathan Moakes, national campaign manager, said the DA has since been able to come together and speak in one voice.

“I think voters don’t like to see political parties have infighting, whether it is the DA or the ANC.

“It is often said, quite correctly, that last year was a difficult year for the DA, but we still managed to put those things behind us and since the beginning of the year we have put out a very united message and showed that we are a force for change in this country,” he said.

The DA wrestled with differing opinions on how to bring about diversity in the party as well as what position to take on it’s policy of redress; it also battled to overcome the perception that it was a “white party”.

Maimane was often in the firing line with some in the party pushing back against his vision to transform it.

City Press has, in recent months, reported on conversations by some in the party to try to remove Maimane after the elections should the party fail to achieve significant growth.

Moakes defended Maimane, saying that the party had confidence in the leader. “Our party leader was unopposed at federal congress last year and I think he has led an exceptional campaign. I think the results will show that he has led a successful campaign.”

The DA has had a tough time maintaining good relations with the EFF, which it relies on to govern in the metros. Last year the EFF assisted in the removal of then DA mayor Athol Trollip in Nelson Mandela Bay. Moakes said the party was focused on getting through the election rather than talks on what the party’s future with the EFF would be post-elections.

“You get into election campaigns because you want to govern and you want to govern better than your opponents. I think the decision on coalitions can be made only once the results are clear; that will happen on Thursday.”

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