‘Coali­tion fail­ures will bring more votes’

Mail & Guardian - - News - Dineo Bendile

Demo­cratic Al­liance leader Mmusi Maimane be­lieves his party’s failed coali­tion gov­ern­ments will at­tract more vot­ers to the DA in next year’s na­tional elec­tions to en­sure an out­right win.

The party launched its 2019 elec­tion cam­paign last week. It will fo­cus on win­ning Gaut­eng, the North­ern Cape and the Western Cape.

De­spite the dif­fi­cul­ties the DA has faced with coali­tions at lo­cal govern­ment level, the party has de­clared coali­tions “the fu­ture of South African pol­i­tics” and is not ruling out the pos­si­bil­ity of en­ter­ing into more po­lit­i­cal part­ner­ships.

Maimane told the Mail & Guardian this week that coali­tion in­sta­bil­ity in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties such as Nel­son Man­dela Bay, where the DA used to gov­ern, would not de­ter vot­ers from giv­ing the party a chance at pro­vin­cial and, pos­si­bly, na­tional level.

“I don’t think vot­ers will be re­luc­tant to vote DA be­cause of coali­tion chal­lenges. If any­thing, I think it will in­cen­tivise them to give the DA a stronger man­date. Just think how much bet­ter off the peo­ple of Nel­son Man­dela Bay would be right now if the DA-run coali­tion had had just one ex­tra coun­cil­lor,” Maimane said. “That would have kept us in govern­ment there, and we could have kept mak­ing the phe­nom­e­nal progress we were mak­ing.”

The DA has also lost con­trol of the Mo­gale City mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Gaut­eng as dis­agree­ments be­tween lead­ers within DA-led coali­tions con­tinue.

Last month, Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga sur­vived an Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters mo­tion of no con­fi­dence on a tech­ni­cal­ity.

But he faced fresh ef­forts by the ANC to oust him this week.

Maimane be­lieves these in­ci­dents will give vot­ers more in­cen­tive to en­sure the DA is the out­right win­ner in next year’s elec­tions.

At the launch of the DA’s elec­tion cam­paign last week­end Maimane high­lighted em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, the fight against cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture, the strength­en­ing of bor­ders and the pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices as key as­pects that would be fleshed out in the party’s man­i­festo.

But there was no men­tion of the party’s al­ter­na­tive model to broad­based black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment (broad­based BEE), which the DA has re­jected.

Maimane said the DA’s al­ter­na­tive model to broad-based BEE, which is still be­ing fi­nalised, would fo­cus on var­i­ous tiers of em­pow­er­ment to chal­lenge the cur­rent sys­tem, which the DA be­lieves enriches only the po­lit­i­cally con­nected.

“The DA’s em­pow­er­ment pol­icy will be gen­uinely broad-based, and will fo­cus on widen­ing op­por­tu­nity in four key ar­eas: own­er­ship, em­ploy­ment, en­trepreneur­ship and ed­u­ca­tion/skills ac­qui­si­tion,” ac­cord­ing to Maimane.

Pol­icy head Gwen Ng­wenya’s an­nounce­ment last month that the party was scrap­ping BEE and race as the ba­sis for em­pow­er­ment caused a back­lash. The party has re­mained tight-lipped on how its pro­posed model is ex­pected to work, leav­ing Ng­wenya’s blun­der to be used by the ANC and other par­ties to scare vot­ers away from the DA.

Ear­lier this year, party lead­ers dis-agreed pub­licly on the in­tro­duc­tion of a di­ver­sity clause. In 2013, the party had sim­i­lar pub­lic dis­agree­ments about mat­ters of trans­for­ma­tion when for­mer party leader He­len Zille ac­cused then par­lia­men­tary leader Lindiwe Maz­ibuko of wrong­fully lead­ing the DA cau­cus to vote in sup­port of the Em­ploy­ment Eq­uity Amend­ment Bill.

Maimane said that there was “cer­tainly a healthy de­bate be­tween find­ing the right bal­ance be­tween our com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity, re­dress and en­sur­ing the best, most suit­able can­di­dates are cho­sen for ser­vice”.

“As a lib­eral party, we cel­e­brate both di­ver­sity and in­di­vid­u­al­ism.”

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