Diplomat tells Maimane: business likes Ramaphosa and is ready to shift vote to ANC
DA leader Mmusi Maimane appeared stunned when a diplomat told him that business people seem impressed by the work that President Cyril Ramaphosa is doing to boost the economy and "are ready to take their votes from the DA and give them to the ANC".
This was after Maimane delivered a 48-minute speech which was billed as an alternative state of the nation address and which took place on Wednesday, a day before Ramaphosa is set to deliver his state of the nation address on Thursday.
In his speech Maimane thrashed the governing ANC for corruption, failure to create jobs and an environment for job-creation, other governance failures including at Eskom, a failure to fight poverty and to act against wrongdoers, some of whom are cabinet ministers.
The event was attended in the main by DA public representatives, diplomats and journalists.
The consul general of Portugal in Cape Town, José Carlos Reis Arsénio, told Maimane that contrary to his speech about a failing ANC, various business people who are in contact with the consulate, including some from the Cape Town-based Portuguese community, were "quite pleased" with Ramaphosa's performance as far as business and the economy were concerned.
This view, he said, was not only from the business people of Portuguese origin but also from South African business people in Cape Town. This, he said, was "to the point that I sense many of them may be ready to give their votes to President Ramaphosa as perhaps a contradiction to the previous vote to the DA".
"Do you sense that might be a reality, that he is performing well in terms of the business community ...?" he asked Maimane.
He also wanted to know more about the reforms Maimane was proposing to boost the economy and business.
In his response, Maimane warned of "a romantic view" that made people believe Ramaphosa "landed from Mars".
"President Ramaphosa was part of the ANC's infrastructure for the past number of years as deputy president. He watched Zuma and all the ANC," he said in reference to the failures of the ANC government led by Jacob Zuma.
Maimane said that it was the ANC in power during Zuma's reign and that Ramaphosa was part of that government.
He said it was more worrying that Ramaphosa had received R500,000 from Bosasa, which he referred to as "bribe money". He said it was not about financing Ramaphosa's campaign but was meant to ensure his family interests through his son could be advanced.
Maimane said a vote for the ANC was not a vote for Ramaphosa but a vote for a party that had failed SA. "I often challenge business people, saying if you want the state to be looted further, give the ANC a stronger mandate. It will only strengthen their ability to steal."
Maimane predicted that the country could be governed through a coalition after the May general elections, saying while these coalitions had not been easy in the metro municipalities, they were the future of government including at national level.
"We need to realign our politics. We need to stop going to the ballot box to simply express our race but, ultimately, we should be able to build new coalitions," said Maimane, adding that it was possible for such coalition governments to succeed if they could agree on putting the interests of the people first and if they had a plan to work from.