Maimane: The man behind the hype
JOHANNESBURG — Mmusi Maimane, newly elected leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), was born on 6 June 1980 in Dobsonville, Soweto in Johannesburg.
At the age of 34, Mr Maimane is not only the first black leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, but also a learned politician who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Theology and a Master’s Degree in Public and Development Management from Wits University.
His wife Natalie, who describes Mr Maimane as her “best friend”, said in an interview with Netwerk24: “unfortunately … we haven’t moved past race as South Africans.
When Mmusi first started in parliament, the idea that he was married to a white woman was brought up in parliament by various MPS who heckled him.
Sadly, it’s brought up by the ANC … as a sort of a hole in his Africanness, and because he’s married to a white woman, he’s not African enough. That’s a view that needs to be challenged.”
The Maimanes have two children, threeyear-old Kgalaletso and ten-month-old Kgosi. Despite all the negative comments regarding their interracial marriage, the couple seems unfazed, and Natalie thinks “what has been helpful in that is to stop comparing myself to people around me”.
In an interview with ENCA, Mr Maimane said: “I want to model for my kids a kind of South Africa that we want to see.
I teach my kids respect not because it’s a black thing, but because it’s a respect issue. I want them to know that everyone who’s an adult they must respect.” It’s about breaking down historical prejudices.
By joining the DA, he has provoked some supporters of the ruling ANC — the party that led the struggle against white-minority rule.
ANC lawmaker Lindiwe Sisulu once called him a “hired native” –– an explosive term she was forced to withdraw.
Before getting into politics, the lanky, smart dresser, who was in the 2014 GQ Mag- azine’s list of best-dressed men, ran his own management consultancy and lectured at a business school in Johannesburg.
In his first term as party leader, Mr Maimane will be charged with widening the appeal of the DA to take supporters from the ruling African National Congress.
Mr Maimane’s election is intended to attract black votes to the party, which has the support of many whites. The DA won 22 percent of the vote in the 2014 election, South Africa’s News24 said.
The ANC has won more than 60 percent of the vote in every election since it took power under Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Now Mr Maimane is pledging to pursue a lawsuit against President Jacob Zuma, who is accused of taking bribes from arms dealers. The president has denied the allegations and the charges were dropped weeks before he took office in 2009.
if you are watching, please note we are still coming for you,” Mr Maimane said in his acceptance speech Sunday. “Nobody is above the law. And equally so, no political party has the divine right to rule this country.”
Despite the fall of apartheid more than two decades ago, South Africa remains a deeply divided nation along racial lines.
The black majority continues to live in poverty. About one in four people living in South Africa are unemployed and the worst affected are young black people, PBS reported.
The nation’s unemployment and poverty sparked deadly xenophobic violence against African immigrants in the cities of Durban and Johannesburg this year.
Mr Maimane, the son of a cashier, discussed the struggle of young black South Africans during his acceptance speech Sunday. “Not everybody I grew up with has had the same opportunities as me,” he said.
“These experiences shaped me, just like they shaped so many young black people of my generation. And that is why I simply don’t agree with those who say they don’t see colour. Because, if you don’t see that I’m black, then you don’t see me.”
The Soweto native said South Africa must first recognize the economic inequalities across racial lines in order to rise above them.
“This doesn’t mean our skin colour must define us forever,” he said. “We can transcend race. But this can only happen if every South African acknowledges the injustices of apartheid; and it can only happen if we all recognize that the racial inequality of the past remains with us today.”
Mr Maimane, a preacher at Discovery Church in Randburg, said that above all, the DA will push for measures to create jobs and equal opportunities as well as strengthen the economy. Mr Maimane, who took 88.9 percent of the DA delegates’ votes, received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of his victory speech.
South African press has dubbed Mr Maimane as the “Obama of Soweto,” a comparison which he has rebuffed.
— IBT- Citizen.
Newly elected DA party leader Mmusi Maimane (centre left) celebrates with party members on Sunday.