Maimane gets tough on Zille


DA leader Mmusi Maimane has said he con­sid­ered com­ments made, to the ef­fect that he was scared to act against former party leader He­len Zille, as racist. This comes as a num­ber of po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors and po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents have chal­lenged Maimane to “show balls and get rid of Zille”. “I think that is wrong on two ac­counts. There is an un­der­tone which says black peo­ple can’t lead ex­cept when they are man­aged by white peo­ple, which I think is racist at its core. I think it un­der­mines Africans; it un­der­mines us as a peo­ple,” he said dur­ing an in­ter­view with City Press this week.

Maimane also sounds up­set by al­lu­sions that he was “made” by Zille and that he would find it dif­fi­cult to act against her.

“There is this view in SA that says that black lead­ers are made. It is wor­ry­ing to hear peo­ple say that the only way a black per­son can lead is if they are made by some­body [who is white]. It is a deeply de­mean­ing view. As far as I know, I had a con­tes­ta­tion at congress and we fought for a lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

“This thing that so-and-so is made by so-and-so, has its roots in racism,” Maimane said.

Maimane added that as a mat­ter of fact, Zille had not been ac­tive in the DA as an or­gan­i­sa­tion, and Zille has been fo­cus­ing on work­ing for the Western Cape gov­ern­ment.

“He­len and I have a re­la­tion­ship but I am not in any way [be­holden to her],” he said.

“I am loyal to the cause. I took ac­tion. I re­ferred the mat­ter to the le­gal fed­eral com­mis­sion, as I would [in the case of] any­body [else],” said Maimane.

Zille was ex­pected to be charged with con­tra­ven­ing the DA’s so­cial me­dia pol­icy and for bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute. The dis­ci­plinary sanc­tion for the so­cial me­dia charge is ter­mi­na­tion of mem­ber­ship.

Maimane re­vealed that he spoke to Zille fol­low­ing her tweets but he wouldn’t di­vulge the de­tails of their con­ver­sa­tion be­sides that he told her the tweet was not right and that “she must ap­pre­ci­ate the ac­tions I am go­ing to take”.

“I was not treat­ing her any dif­fer­ently. I dealt with Dianne Kohler Barnard the same, and with oth­ers be­fore her. I call peo­ple in and I take them on when they say things that are not con­sis­tent with the or­gan­i­sa­tion [pol­icy],” said Maimane.

City Press un­der­stands that talks are afoot among sup­port­ers of Zille to with­draw her sup­port from Maimane at next year’s fed­eral congress, or to fi­nan­cially make life dif­fi­cult for the DA leader. But a DA in­sider told City Press: “That will be an empty threat be­cause there is not enough time to pick some­one new [as leader]. That would com­pletely desta­bilise the party.”

Zille was con­sid­ered to have is­sued a di­rect chal­lenge to Maimane in an on­line ar­ti­cle this week. Zille wrote: “Speak­ing while white” is con­sid­ered the ul­ti­mate sin, in terms of the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar ide­ol­ogy called “crit­i­cal race the­ory”.

“The real dan­ger is that the DA, in its quest for votes, may start to swal­low ev­ery tenet, myth and shib­bo­leth of African racial-na­tion­al­ist pro­pa­ganda, in­clud­ing the scape­goat­ing of mi­nori­ties, pop­ulist mo­bil­i­sa­tion and po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age. Then the in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of cor­rup­tion will only be a mat­ter of time,” Zille wrote.

In­sid­ers in the party have in­ter­preted the opin­ion piece as a dig at Maimane’s move to grow black sup­port for the party.

But Maimane is pre­pared to en­sure that there is no spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion ac­corded to cer­tain peo­ple in the DA.

“How can you run an or­gan­i­sa­tion where some peo­ple are more im­por­tant than oth­ers?

“Peo­ple want me to stop a par­tic­u­lar process and I am say­ing it is not about stop­ping a par­tic­u­lar process, it is about re­spect­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion enough to say no one in­di­vid­ual is big­ger than the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Asked how donors or­gan­ised by Zille might re­act, he said: “If peo­ple fund us be­cause they are spon­sor­ing an in­di­vid­ual then we have got a prob­lem.

“Peo­ple must fund the DA be­cause that is the or­gan­i­sa­tion we love.”

The Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF), which has been vot­ing with the DA in some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties since the Au­gust 3 elec­tions, has re­jected Zille’s apol­ogy and de­manded a meet­ing with the DA over her tweets. But the two sides are yet to meet. “I said we will af­ford them a meet­ing; they must af­ford us the de­tails of what they want to dis­cuss. I will hap­pily meet with the EFF, but the le­gal process is still un­fold­ing,” Maimane said.

DA sources have claimed that when Maimane an­nounced in the par­lia­men­tary cau­cus last Thurs­day that he didn’t sup­port Zille’s views, there was a round of ap­plause across the cau­cus.

Maimane will have a say in Zille’s case when the sanc­tion, if she is found guilty, goes to the DA fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive, which Maimane leads.

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