Maimane shrugs off claims that Zille is more popular

 DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Deaan Vivier
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Deaan Vivier

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has shrugged off claims that former party leader Helen Zille is more popular than him.

Maimane was responding to a question about a poll that reportedly found that Zille was necessary for the DA’s election campaign if the party wanted to do well in the May 8 polls. Maimane said on Wednesday that he did not take the poll seriously.

“The DA has an incredible team who work together with different people who are leading the party going forward. It was the same poll [that] said we would get 19% or something like that, so frankly I am very dismissive of such polling.

"I am focused on the future. Helen Zille has done a great job in the province, Alan Winde will take over and we are building a diverse team and I am not even worried about that stuff. My focus is on the future of the organisation and building one South Africa for all. The DA has been growing incredibly so I am not worried about that at all.”

On Tuesday Zille surprisingly came to Maimane’s defence on Twitter for the first time since the two fell out over the former leader’s tweets, resulting in a number of sanctions against her which included not attending party events unless granted permission to do so.

Zille tweeted: “With some people comparing leaders on the basis of opinion polls I just want to say this: @Mmusi Maimane led the DA into government in Nelson Mandela Bay, Jozi and Tshwane. I never achieved that, as hard as I tried. Let’s all just focus on the next victory. And the next.”

Maimane made the comments outside of Eskom’s Ankerlig Power Station in Atlantis on Wednesday when he addressed journalists alongside the DA’s Western Cape premier candidate Winde.

The party is calling on Eskom to urgently build new power stations and for the Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to allocate a licence to the Western Cape government so that it can import natural gas to run generators in the province.

“The Eskom substation behind us today is currently running on diesel – an unaffordable and environmentally unfriendly source of power. The turbine generators that power this plant, like many others across the province, can be powered by Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) which is both a cheaper and cleaner source of energy,” Maimane said.

“We already have a special economic zone in Saldanha Bay that we could import gas through easily and in a sustainable manner, and it comes with a much lower price tag than diesel. And we have done the studies and have worked with Transnet on an actionable plan for importation through Saldanha.

“All that is missing now is the political will. Former minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, refused to give the Western Cape a licence to import LNG. It is for this reason that I will today be writing the minister of energy, Jeff Radebe, requesting that he allocate a licence to the Western Cape to start importing liquid natural gas to run turbine generators in the province.”

Winde said that about R21 billion would be needed to put into action the province’s energy plan and that about 67 000 jobs would be created.

“Round about R21 billion is what we are needing in total, round about 67 000 jobs if you do the full gas. We have done six studies on gas already, probably within a year we could be having conversion and probably in three years we could actually start to get a new gas power station built here, maximum five years.

"We know that within the next five and seven years, Eskom is going to lose 7000 megawatts on old coal power stations, we need new ones coming in. We have got no new builds on the horizon so this makes sense.”

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August 2020

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