Maimane wants diversity on DA benches

DA leader Mmusi Maimane gets ready to speak in the National Assembly. Picture: Esa Alexander / The times
DA leader Mmusi Maimane gets ready to speak in the National Assembly. Picture: Esa Alexander / The times

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has issued a directive to provinces to produce lists of diverse candidates, as he prepares to make good on his promise to transform the DA benches in Parliament next year.

The plans, which have seen resistance from some in the party, will take shape when the federal executive meets to consolidate the provincial lists, indicating who they want sent to Parliament.

Maimane will reinforce those lists with his personal selection of five MPs.

He is currently in the process of recruiting them from outside the party.

“Selection panels are sitting. We have ensured that pools of recruits are diverse ... I will further engage at fedex, where the lists are deliberated, and will ensure that the candidates I introduce, as a prerogative of the leader, will be diverse,” Maimane told City Press.

Fedex has the power to remove candidates in favour of others for the sake of achieving diversity; a white candidate can be removed in favour of a black one.

Maimane said that the process would be guided by the newly adopted diversity clause.

On the impact that former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s newly announced political party could have on the DA, Maimane said he was not worried.

“If an election were to be held today, we would retain the Western Cape; that is not an issue.”

In 2014, when the last general elections were held, the DA walked away with 57% of the vote, the ANC with 34% and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 2%.

During the 2016 local government elections, the DA took home 63%, the ANC 26% and the EFF 3%.

Voter turnout in 2016 was around 10% less than that of 2014 as is the trend with local government elections.

“Patricia de Lille has been planning a party for a long time; it’s why she sought to distract the DA when we sought to hold her accountable.

“We are the only party that is creating work, and voters in the Western Cape know that they would not want the province to return to the ANC, which is what Patricia’s party could do.

“So we are confident we will retain the Western Cape. There are always new parties that start before an election. Voters recognise that the only party capable of unseating the ANC is the DA,” Maimane said.

Read: Patricia De Lille: DA is just a hollow lie

De Lille ended a long-held suspicion last week when she announced that she would be forming a new organisation, though it is still without a name.

While she wouldn’t reveal her exact prospects, the former mayor said that independent polls had been conducted by market research firm Ipsos to determine her popularity and how that might look in electoral terms.

The DA possibly faces another challenge in the Western Cape in the form of the Gatvol Capetonian movement.

The group, which has threatened to register as a political party, purports to champion the interests of coloured people.

It has also called for the Western Cape to be independent of South Africa.

Maimane said his party “is engaging with voters, focused on our message of One SA for all, with a diverse list of premier candidates, and team 1 SA. We are in full campaign mode. We are governing better than any other party. Metro governments are delivering positives outcomes, and the province is receiving clean audits ... This is what this election is about and so we are not nervous about Patricia and other parties.”

The DA, which only governs in the Western Cape, will look to secure two more provinces next year.

“We are focused on forming governments in Gauteng and the Northern Cape. This will be important for us to bring change that creates work, removes corruption and builds one SA for all. Every effort to reduce the ANC nationally is important, to hold them to account for years of corruption and state capture. This is the change SA needs,” he added.

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