It was not a 'cock-up', says Maimane of review panel that led to him leaving DA

05 February 2020 - 18:25 By THABO MOKONE
Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday.
Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday.
Image: Sunday Times / Waldo Swiegers

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane has insisted that the establishment of a party review panel that later made recommendations that resulted in his abrupt departure from the party was "not a cock-up".

Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday, Maimane said he had no regrets about his time in the DA.

At the event, University of Cape Town political scientist Prof Anthony Butler asked Maimane to indicate if he thought the DA review panel - which Maimane had instituted - was a "stitch-up, cock-up or was fair" to him, given that the former DA leader quit the party soon after it tabled its recommendations.

"Anthony, you did not give me the option which perhaps should have been 'some or none of the above'," quipped Maimane, before tackling the question in earnest.

"The DA was an experience that gave me the opportunity to serve the people of this country. So I don't look back at that time and era and feel there was a cock-up ... no.

"It was an experience. But now you learn your lessons as a leader. You take the  opportunities and say perhaps you should exercise judgment differently here - and if you're truly want to build a nonracial movement, here are the choices you've got to make," he said.

Maimane left the DA in November last year after a three-member organisational review panel, including former party leader Tony Leon, recommended that he step down from his leadership position following a poor electoral outcome for the DA in the 2019 general elections.

Maimane on Wednesday said he would be forming not his own political party but rather an civil society activist organisation, the Movement for One South Africa (Mosa), to campaign for political and socio-economic reform.

He said such a movement had been at the forefront of changes in several countries on the African continent, including Zimbabwe and Kenya, as well as further afield, such as in France.

Maimane said Mosa would be convening its consultative meeting within a fortnight to fine-tune its policy proposals before officially launching in March.

He said Mosa would have a council in all nine provinces, as well as a national council, while allowing ordinary citizens equal participation in its activities and affairs. It would rely on individual membership fees of R25 to crowdfund its operations.

Maimane added that he was not setting up a political party because he simply believed that were already too many political parties in the country.

"If I was an ANC strategist, what I would do is to ask for more parties in SA - because the more you have, the more you confuse voters."

Maimane was recently embroiled in an ugly Twitter spat with DA MPs after he called their interim leader John Steenhuisen a "Judas", implying he was a sellout.

This was after Steenhuisen, who had served as Maimane's chief whip in parliament, told a radio station that the DA under Maimane's leadership focused too much on bashing the ANC instead of its own policies and internal dynamics.

Maimane on Wednesday appeared to back down on his attack against Steenhuisen.

"In the Twitter climate you always have multiple people who manage your account, so there's a lot of language that goes with that. I'm not too concerned about it. We had enthusiastic people. I don't have a problem," he said.

"I don't hate John Steenhuisen. I have no problem with those people - I actually wish them well. Whatever vitriol that's being spewed on social media is not something that I want to advance in this country. It's not a culture or practice that I want."


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