Herman Mashaba: Is the IRR the Guptas of the DA?

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo Images)
DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo Images)

Is the DA being captured by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR)? Will we one day be summoned into meetings in their offices to take instructions on Cabinet appointments, asks Herman Mashaba.

State capture always starts with capturing a political party that is either in government or will be in government in the future.

The ANC was captured in the Saxonwold Shebeen long before our state institutions became the playground of the Gupta family. This is something worth remembering.

Now, ask yourself the questions that every DA member is asking themselves right now.

Is the DA being captured by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR)? Will we one day be summoned into meetings in their offices to take instructions on Cabinet appointments? Will DA policy be controlled by this conservative think-tank while members remain locked out of the process?

These are all equally good and frightening questions, based on a very legitimate fear DA members hold right now. There is nothing paranoid about it. If you doubt me, consider the following.

Prior to the 2019 general elections, it was widely reported that a group of DA MPs were in discussion with the IRR about breaking away and starting a "true liberal party". Unfortunately they did not. They decided to stay.

They call themselves liberals, but they are not. They are, in fact, conservatives who refuse to see the idea of privilege or disadvantage located in the stark realities of contemporary South Africa.

What emerged after the 2019 general elections, is that the decision by those DA MPs and the IRR to stay, did not stop there. It clearly involved a resolution to capture and remake the DA in their image.

Now the first step of capture has to be to remove those who will get in the way. Remember Nhlanhla Nene? It may have been Nene's opposition to the nuclear deal, but it is Mmusi Maimane's opposition to outsourcing policy to a conservative think-tank.

Maimane is naturally the target for two very important reasons. Firstly, he is the leader and must be replaced by one of their own. Secondly, he has a vision of "One South Africa for All".

What follows is a series of anonymous leaks from within the party, all aimed at one thing: the complete destruction of Mmusi Maimane. One set of Sunday papers after the next, it is done ruthlessly.

So last Sunday I opened the papers and discovered another one of these bombshells.

The team of panellists tasked with reviewing the DA's recent poor election showing have met Maimane and asked him to step down.

What? Who gave them this mandate? A leader, elected by over 2 000 delegates of the party, asked to step aside by a panel appointed to complete a review?

Up until this point, many in the party were left wondering where these leaks were coming from and what their agenda was. But then, last week, an announcement took place which answered our questions.

The IRR released a statement expressing no confidence in Maimane and stating that the DA needs to appoint a leader who is white to prove race does not matter. They even had the temerity to name who it should be. Who needs democracy when a capturer can do it for you?

And then we get to the moment where they fully exposed themselves.

In tackling me for public criticism of their naked opportunism, the IRR releases a WhatsApp message I sent to a colleague calling him out for something he said. Here is the thing, it was a closed, private caucus WhatsApp group. The only way the IRR could have received that message was if they have people placed in our party who are working with them to implement a plan.  

In releasing that message, rather stupidly it must be said, the IRR has proven that it is involved in a conspiracy within the DA. They are conspiring with DA public representatives to stage a coup to remove our elected leader and place someone at the head who will be less offensive to those who wish to imagine privilege and disadvantage do not have shades in South Africa today.

Perhaps that is why every message the IRR puts out has a fundraising drive. Are they looking to fund an expensive internal election campaign at our next elective congress?

I joined the DA in 2014 to combat the state capture that was destroying our country. The event that prompted me to stand as Johannesburg's mayoral candidate, was Jacob Zuma's firing of Nene and the effective overnight crash of our currency.

What scares me, as an actual liberal and someone who knows that without the DA there is no future for South Africa, is the striking similarities between how the Guptas and IRR operate.

Remember, party capture has to precede state capture. There can be little doubt that with the help of some within, the IRR is trying to capture the DA.

I just hope I do not live long enough to see the day where prominent DA leaders are summoned into the IRR "shebeen" and are told whom will replace whom.

- Mashaba is executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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