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Mmusi Maimane backers see internal conspiracy

03 February 2019 - 00:00 By APHIWE DEKLERK

Supporters of DA leader Mmusi Maimane believe his detractors within the party are trying to sabotage the DA's electoral chances in a bid to get rid him.
Several party leaders sympathetic to Maimane told the Sunday Times a group aligned to Western Cape premier Helen Zille was deliberately trying to cut the DA's share of the vote in May so they could use a poor election result as a pretext to oust him.
They cited the resignation of party policy head Gwen Ngwenya and Zille's suggested tax boycott as being part of an orchestrated strategy to cause chaos and disrupt the party's campaign.
The Maimane supporters say those opposed to his leadership include former MP Gavin Davis, who resigned late last year; current MPs Ghaleb Cachalia and Anchen Dreyer; Gauteng MPL Kate Lorimer; Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer; and deputy chief whip Mike Waters.
The pro-Maimane group believe their opponents in the party see Ngwenya as an ideal candidate to challenge Maimane.
One member of the group said the anti-Maimane plotters were self-declared "true liberals" who feel that the party's adoption of a diversity clause at its last conference and its acceptance of BEE represent a betrayal of the DA's fundamental values.
"We know for a fact that it's people like Gavin, who is probably the mastermind behind the strategy … Gwen is being positioned as a martyr in this battle about the soul of the DA," said one of the pro-Maimane members.
A number of party leaders have come out in support of Maimane, including DA Youth leader Luyolo Mphithi, Gauteng leader John Moody, Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga, Gauteng chair Mike Moriarty and North West leader Joe McGluwa.
McGluwa said renewed opposition to Maimane's leadership had been sparked by the party's list process, which will probably lead to a number of white males being dropped from DA caucuses at national and provincial level.
McGluwa said the unhappiness was nothing but "electionitis" among a "smallanyana WhatsApp group of individuals who must wake up and smell the coffee".
"In terms of an early election … They must wait for the next congress. We gave Maimane a mandate up until the next congress," he said.
Moriarty voiced his support for Maimane and said he foresees growth in the DA's electoral fortunes.
"If there was a congress tomorrow, he would win with a 95% majority. Any group that may be trying to mobilise is very small and would be crushed," said Moriarty.
DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the party's leadership was fully behind Maimane and believed he was the best man to lead the party.
Lorimer declined to comment when contacted by the Sunday Times.
Schäfer denied being party to any campaign to damage the DA's electoral fortunes. "I am not involved in any grouping. I am a firm believer in the DA's vision for one SA for everybody," she said.
Cachalia said he was unaware of any conspiracy to oust Maimane and did not agree with Zille's call for a tax boycott. "I am exercised by our party's offering to build one SA for all," he said.
Ngwenya declined to comment.
Davis said he had left politics and was not involved in the inner wranglings of the DA. "[The allegations] sounds like a conspiracy theory cooked up by fanatics with nothing better to do with their time," he said.
Waters hung up the phone when called for comment.
Zille and Dreyer could not be reached at the time of going to print...

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