Mmusi Maimane catches DA offside, wants to succeed Helen Zille as premier
DA leader Mmusi Maimane has nominated himself as the Western Cape premier candidate to replace Helen Zille, snubbing preferred party candidates following an internal process.
His move has sparked a fresh leadership battle in the DA. Some party leaders have accused Maimane of being power hungry.
The DA has postponed a briefing originally scheduled for today to announce its candidate.
Maimane's decision is seen as an admission that the DA stands little chance in the next general election, and may have accepted that the ANC will keep power in national elections.
DA insiders said that following the party's selection process, Alan Winde emerged as No 1, followed by David Maynier and Bonginkosi Madikizela. Winde and Madikizela are Western Cape MECs and Madikizela is also party leader in the province. Maynier is an MP.
Madikizela told the Sunday Times he had expected Maimane to use his clout to drum up support in a province like Gauteng. He said he and other Western Cape leaders raised their concerns directly with Maimane at a meeting on Friday night.
"Strategically as the party … the next target is Gauteng and the Northern Cape … I find it strange that the federal leader would abandon the national project," said Madikizela.
"We have a national project to get the ANC below 50%," he said.
"If the target is to win two extra provinces, you would expect the federal leader … to have made himself available in one of those two provinces.
"I find it strange that the federal leader would make himself [available] in a province that we are governing. I have made those views very clear and known to him."
Madikizela said Maimane told them he had made himself available because he was worried about the DA's prospects in the province.
"He must use [his profile] for us to win another province … like Gauteng. I don't understand why. Why would the leader just choose to stand in a province that we are already in government, where actually there is no strong opposition in sight?" said Madikizela.
Maimane's supporters said it was being done in the interest of the party's "national project", which was about increasing electoral support nationally and across the provinces.
They also said it would not bode well to put up white men, which meant Winde and Maynier would fall by the wayside.
This would leave Madikizela, who was tainted by his birthday-party scandal last year when service providers paid for the celebration.
"No 1 and 2 were not good for the national project," said a DA source.
Madikizela rejected that he had been compromised by the birthday-party scandal.
The DA constitution makes provision for the party's leader to be its No 1 candidate on all its electoral lists. The DA's federal executive, however, has the discretion to make changes to electoral lists and move members on the basis of "electability".
The executive was unable to ratify the Western Cape candidacy this week because there was no agreement on the Maimane candidacy.
Maynier and Winde could not be reached for comment. Maimane's spokesperson, Portia Adams, said there had been no final decision. "His key consideration is what is best for the DA and for residents of the Western Cape. He is still considering the matter and is in extensive discussions with party structures. There are a number of outstanding possible local candidates for this role, and he has reached no final decision as yet."
Adams said the DA executive was still deliberating on the candidates yesterday. "No premier candidate has been finalised as the selection panel will deliberate on the process this afternoon."
Maimane was "animated by the growth of the DA and works to the objectives of the organisation".
These were an increase in votes in the Western Cape, and forming a government in Gauteng and the Northern Cape.
A party insider, who is opposed to Maimane's candidacy, said: "Why the Western Cape, where we are a shoo-in? It means his interests are about himself."
The source said moving to provincial government would be counterproductive to Maimane's national profile where he shared platforms in parliament with other party leaders such as the ANC's Cyril Ramaphosa and Julius Malema of the EFF.
Maimane sympathisers said he believed that he would strengthen his political hand if he moved into a governing position.