Mmusi Maimane has passed all his tests, now is matured

2015-11-11 19:48

When Mmusi Maimane became the supreme leader of the DA it was clear that, notwithstanding the irrefutable fact that he is a gifted and talented person, he still has to be tested and proven. He came to the position as a political cipher devoid of substantial political track record.

Like a university student Mmusi Maimane throughout the year underwent a series of yearly tests. And recently he set for his end of year final examination. The Dianne Kohler Barnard issue became this ultimate test for Mmusi Maimane.

Has he passed this final examination? Sober reflections shows that he has passed the final examination well.

On the Diane Kohler Barnard issue Mmusi Maimane had to act and he did. He did not rationalize the issue. He was not timid, timorous and tentative. He showed great leadership on two premises: first he acted swiftly by demoting Dianne Kohler Barnard in Parliament and, second he allowed the DA institutional processes to digest the issue over some time and finally coming up with a final decision.

All along the year since Mmusi Maimane was elected as the DA leader we were all aware that even though the DA has took up on itself to elect a Black leader there is still within it some tough "tea party" elements: the racists and the bigots. That was a sobering reality that stubbornly stood on the throats of people.

How was he going to address this issue?

And Mmusi Maimane was aware of this when elected. His first press conference soon after he was elected he said to DA members and supporters: If you are a racist join another political party.

The issue of Dianne Kohler Barnard has risen above whether Dianne Kohler Barnard is one of the tea party elements, or not. (Personally I don’t think she is), but what lies at the centre is the fact that she assumed a public posture that brought to light the deep seated darkness the public had been having vague hunches about the DA.

In the United States, it was the tea party stalwart Sarah Palin who through her public actions made John McCain to lose the US presidential race to Barack Obama in 2008. Later on Sarah Palin was forced to apologize for re-tweeting a tweet that said Barack Obama is a Taliban Muslim.

As we speak, Sarah Palin is out in the cold - she has been discarded from mainstream Republican Party, going from being a celebrated Vice Presidential Candidate to a non entity. She is relegated, denigrated, marginalized and is being bashed endlessly.

Mmusi Maimane’s body language, so far, has been impressive despite stories that he is on the ropes.

But whatever Maimane's determination to build the DA even better, people within the DA have to acknowledge that the many “M” in his names does not stand for “magician” capable of waving a wand and pronto.

That means for Mmusi Maimane to succeed he needs great support within the DA. When the DA – the majority of members being white – elected Mmusi Maimane, for a moment or two the country and the world stood still taking notice savoring the moment. It was remarkable and startling.

It was remarkable and startling because psychologically people during political elections often tend to be driven by clannish or ethnic/racial sentiments –  that is generally people are driven by a desire to vote for the people from their small corner of the world.

Was the DA rising above race and showing maturity in similar ways the United States did in electing President Barack Obama? That was the central questioned asked in the public.

The Diane Kohler Barnard issue and the way Mmusi Maimane handled it may turn out to be more empowering and potentially game-changing within the Democratic Alliance and within the South African society. The decision of expulsion may be grievous and people may feel saddened to the extent of attempting to act somehow. But they should note that the matter was handled in the public beyond Dianne Barnard as a person - and I believe she is a sweet person generally. The issue now being such huge and big in the public arena it had to be dealt and addressed at the bigger and broader level it has been projected. People who feel sad (including Dianne Barnard) should just accept, take a deep breath, hold it for a while, and then exhale, give their nerves the reprieve they need and move on.

Overall Mmusi Maimane appeared to have passed all the tests and is matured, and will enter the New Year renewed. It is great that he had managed to established solid friendship with Julius Malema. This way he will be able to tap into Malema’s vast humanistic instincts and broad social acumen. The two have much in common really.

While ideologically EFF and DA are wide apart, but they are actually two factions of the same idea. Both share the same predatory vision of taking South Africa away from the ANC, to make South Africa better and upbeat for everybody not just for the few. Both want to ensure that South Africa comes first before anything else, unlike it is now.

There should not be corrosive bitterness between EFF and DA really. Leadership is about bringing together the best on offer, whether they be rivals and enemies, people you do not like, or people outside of your comfort zone, as long long as it is possible to work with them to advance a common cause of making sure that South Africa comes first. President Abraham Lincoln pulled the US out of a civil war by bringing different people - some sore enemies in his cabinet. His cabinet was literally called a cabinet of rivals.

The role of Mmusi Maimane within the DA is very different to that of his predecessor Helen Zille. Helen Zille as DA leader has to walk on a tightrope, and walking the tightrope she could walk so far to the left and then walk so far to the right before she has to pick herself up and maintain the middle ground.  Mmusi Maimane’s job is not to walk on the tightrope but to take the whole tightrope and pull it into the black communities. That imply that Mmusi Maimane being the leader means that the DA has crossed over – Black  people in the DA are no longer on the periphery or as back benchers but are at the heart and centre of the party. That will make the party diverse as within the centre is also the space of Whites. These dynamics of the DA makes it interesting institution.

Mmusi Maimane has passed all his tests and examinations. He is now matured. How did he passed his examinations? Mmusi Maimane solidly demonstrated that (a) he understands the gravity of what is to be done with the DA  (b) he is prepared against all odds to give it his personal best, heartfelt honest shot, (c) he is ready to define his agenda and stay the course (d) he has fibre in his body that can sustain him through the muddy waters of turning the DA into a tip-top diverse political party, and (e) he clearly thought through his political vision in a systematic manner.


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