'Admission of defeat' - Maimane slams Steenhuisen's talk of DA 'coalition' with ANC

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Mmusi Maimane, former DA leader now in charge of OSA.
Mmusi Maimane, former DA leader now in charge of OSA.
PHOTO: Jan Gerber/News24
  • Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane says the party’s top leadership has abandoned its national project and remains only interested in the Western Cape.
  • Maimane also says he was stopped from implementing a plan to grow the middle class and youth voter base.
  • He launched a scathing attack on the DA in a Twitter post after a Sunday Times report in which party leader John Steenhuisen revealed they would be willing to work with the ANC in 2024 under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane says the party opening the door for a possible coalition with the ANC under a Cyril Ramaphosa presidency in 2024 is an admission of defeat and a recognition that they can’t grow. 

In a scathing Twitter attack on Sunday, Maimane said party leader John Steenhuisen and federal executive chairperson Helen Zille had given up on the national project.

READ | John Steenhuisen: Here is the DA's plan to replace cadre deployment with professional appointments

"John and Helen do not care about fixing the problems of this nation. They care about the Western Cape and maintaining power there. They have given up on the national project and are now going back to the historic voters of the party and abandoning the rest. It’s obvious," Maimane said.

The furore comes after a Sunday Times report in which Steenhuisen revealed that the party would be willing to work with the ANC, if Ramaphosa is president, come the 2024 general elections.

Steenhuisen told the newspaper the DA had lost support due to a "wishy-washy" campaign without a coherent message in the 2019 national and provincial elections led by Maimane.

He said the DA had lost voters as a result, while the EFF and Freedom Front Plus had grown their support - and that this was the basis for the review that eventually led to Maimane's resignation.

In response, Maimane tweeted: "I usually keep quiet about the DA because I am a gentleman but I notice that John Steenhuisen (@jsteenhuisen) has mentioned my name in the Sunday Times (@SundayTimesZA) article and as such I am going to clarify matters. In 2019, the DA did not lose because of me, but because of John and Helen Zille (@helenzille)."

Maimane said the core issue South Africans had to accept was that there was no good or bad ANC.

"We have seen corruption from both factions, and we have seen 27 years of mismanagement and misappropriation of state resources. I said this before and I will say it again. It’s the ANC. Today the DA is saying they are open to coalition with some factions of the ANC as long as Ramaphosa (@CyrilRamaphosa) is the president. They are officially out of opposition and are now themselves a faction of the ANC. It’s an admission of defeat. A recognition that they can’t grow," he said.

Maimane said that, when he joined the DA, he had wanted to grow the voter base among the middle class and the nation’s youth.

He said:

“To grow as a political party you must be honest with the people about the history of this country. Privilege exists. We have to diversify the benches of parliament. We have to work on land equity and justice. We have to see people, their pain and we can’t be color blind. Now why did the DA lose in 2019. I wanted us to grow our voter base among the middle class and the youth of SA. That requires speaking to them about issues that matter to them. John and Helen closed that gate. As you can see from their present messaging and tactics."

Maimane said he would be naïve to think that voters were not looking at the DA’s diversity in Parliament.

READ HERE | Steenhuisen concerned about FF+ 'threat' amid global rise in identity politics

"As a leader I can’t go to a university student and say there is no white privilege, race is not a factor in South Africa. I would be lying to them and they would call me out on my BS,” he said.

On the issue of unity, Maimane said:

“I believe in unity. I realize that vision requires hard work. It requires finishing discussions that were left suspended after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It takes work. It takes more than sports and braais to fix our divisions,” he said.

Approached for comment, Steenhuisen's office said it would not be responding "at this stage".

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