Independent DA review flags 'indecisive' leadership by Maimane

21 October 2019 - 18:27 By Amil Umraw
Mmusi Maimane is to blame for a general “erosion of discipline” in the DA, according to a recent report.
Mmusi Maimane is to blame for a general “erosion of discipline” in the DA, according to a recent report.
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS

An independent review of the DA has found party leader Mmusi Maimane wanting, with his “indecisive” leadership said to have caused deep divisions within the national caucus and confusion about the party’s ideological stance on various issues.

The assessment of the organisation was commissioned by Maimane himself after the party’s poor showing at this year’s general elections.

A panel - consisting of former party executive Ryan Coetzee, former leader Tony Leon and Capitec founder Michiel le Roux - conducted the review and penned a report, which was presented at the party’s federal council meeting over the weekend.

Its main findings are scathing of Maimane’s leadership, as well as that of the wider federal leadership. It says that the overwhelming views of those who made submissions to the panel were that Maimane, “while immensely talented, committed to the cause, hardworking and widely liked”, can also be “indecisive, inconsistent and conflict-averse”.

This, the report found, has led to:

  • a lack of clarity about the party’s vision and direction;
  • confusion about the party’s position on key issues;
  • deep divisions within the national caucus; and
  • a breakdown in trust between Maimane and some of the party’s structures.

Maimane’s leadership may have also resulted in what the report says is a failure to produce a credible policy platform and a general “erosion of discipline” across the party.

“It is striking that some or all of these views were expressed by almost every person or delegation we met and are contained in a number of key written submissions we received,” states the report.


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It also found that the relationship between Maimane and former federal council chairman James Selfe (a position now held by Helen Zille) had become “dysfunctional”.

“The relationship has come to be characterised by a lack of trust and a failure to communicate effectively. The key nexus of the leader [Maimane], the chairperson of federal council [Selfe], the chief executive [Paul Boughey] and the chief whip [John Steenhuisen] has ceased to function as a team, as distrust and division makes unity of purpose impossible,” it said.

“Taken together, the preceding points suggest there has been is a critical failure of leadership at the top of the party, resulting in confusion about the party’s values and vision, uncertainty about its direction and a fragmentation of its purpose.”

The report recommended that Maimane, Selfe and Boughey step down. Selfe and Boughey have already resigned.

Herman Mashaba resigned from his post as Johannesburg mayor on October 21 2019. He listed unhappiness with the direction of the DA as a major factor for his departure. This leaves an uncertain future for the coalition in the city. Sunday Times political reporter Zingisa Mvumvu reports.


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