DA’s ‘state of damage control’
The Democratic Alliance (DA) seems to be their own worst enemy and no one else should be blamed for their apparent dismal state but themselves. Just over three years ago, the party was doing well. Under their first black leader Mmusi Maimane, the party managed to win three metropolitan municipalities aside from retaining their Republic of Europe, Cape Town.
They tried to prove they’re a non-racial party by placing black men – Herman Mashaba and Solly Msimanga – as mayors of Johannesburg and Tshwane respectively.
They handed out title deeds, cut ribbons, implemented Expanded Public Works Programmes and did some PR exercises to build trust with their residents while having the support of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and small opposition parties.
But, in no time, scandals started to emerge under Msimanga’s leadership and in February last year he resigned, claiming to be focusing on his Gauteng premiership campaign. He was replaced by Stevens Mokgalapa, another black man, to head the country’s capital city.
Last year’s general elections, however, were an embarrassment for the blue party, who underperformed by not maintaining the votes they got in 2016.
Even Msimanga might have regretted resigning as mayor as he didn’t even get anywhere near half of the votes he was hoping to attract.
And, several months after, the black leaders left. Maimane and Mashaba resigned. Exactly a year after Msimanga’s mayoral resignation, Mokgalapa also announced his intention to resign as the mayor after being investigated by the party for his conduct.
This after an audio tape emerged where he was heard gossiping about party members with his former MMC of transport Sheila Lynn Senkubuge.
But that resignation could have been a shot in the foot.
If we look at what happened in Johannesburg, it was clear the EFF was no longer siding with the DA. The red-berets helped get the ANC back into power in the economic hub when they voted with the Thuma Mina brigade to place the ANC’s Geoff Makhubo as Johannesburg mayor after Mashaba left.
In Tshwane, the ANC and EFF were on a witch-hunt to remove Mokgalapa and Tshwane speaker Katlego Mathebe, submitting numerous no-confidence motions against the two, threatening legal action against the speaker for her conduct while getting the backing of Gauteng cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Lebogang Maile.
But it seems the loss of Tshwane was looming since Mokgalapa planned to vacate his seat. Despite John Moodey’s announcement that they would nominate a DA candidate to replace Mokgalapa, and his hopes that the EFF would vote with them, what were the chances that the EFF would turn around and give supporting votes?
In a leaked letter to The Citizen earlier this week, written by now DA federal leader candidate Mbali Ntuli to her DA members, she admitted that the party was in a “state of damage control”.
“Just a few months ago we were focusing on winning government. Today, we are in a permanent state of damage control. We no longer plan to take over governments; we are planning to just hold on to our existing support base. And even that seems impossible,” she wrote.
Last year’s general elections were an embarrassment for the blue party, who underperformed by not maintaining the votes they got in 2016.