Staunch and ardent sympathizers of the Democratic Alliance DA have submitted that Mmusi Maimane’s aspiration is a hard blow below the belt.
Maimane’s decision to consider standing as the party’s Western Cape premier candidate has set the cat among the pigeons within, dividing party members.
While the DA’s national management was due to meet on Monday evening, and its federal executive to meet on Tuesday, uncertainty reigned about who would be the DA’s premier candidate in the province it has governed since 2009, and what the effect of a Maimane candidature might be for the DA’s overall election campaign.
Sources close to Maimane said there was a possibility that he might reconsider.
The DA was due to announce its candidate on Sunday, but on Saturday the media was informed that the announcement had been postponed.
It then emerged that Maimane was considering standing himself, taking many within the party by surprise as the DA had already embarked on a search for a premier candidate, interviewing potential candidates.
Those against a Maimane for Western Cape premier campaign argue that it creates the tacit admission that the party will not win Gauteng or push the ANC under 50% nationally in the upcoming 2019 elections. This camp includes DA movers and shakers generally supportive of Maimane.
‘It doesn’t make sense’
Also in this camp is DA Western Cape leader and one of the three initial frontrunners for the premier candidature, Bonginkosi Madikizela.
“We have made it very clear that we want to get the ANC below 50% [and] we want to win two additional provinces, namely Gauteng and the Northern Cape. It doesn’t make sense to me that you take your federal leader and make him stand as premier for a province you are already governing,”
The opposing camp argues that the DA has previously increased its national support when a DA leader ran for premier of the Western Cape – citing the 2009 and 2014 campaigns when Maimane’s predecessor as DA leader Helen Zille became Western Cape premier. They say there is nothing to suggest it will not be the same this coming election.
There are also DA members who suggest that Maimane’s eyeing of Leeuwenhof, the official residence of the premier of the Western Cape, is a career move to obtain the material trappings that come with the position. His supporters have dismissed this notion.
Maimane’s spokesperson, Portia Adams, on Monday stood by her earlier comments on Maimane’s motivation.
“His key consideration is what is best for the DA and for the residents of the Western Cape,” she said.
It is unclear which position – for or against Maimane’s candidature – holds sway in the federal executive – which will make the ultimate decision.
In the DA, the party leader is automatically at the top of a list for any position he or she wishes to stand for. Apparently. Madikizela, DA MP and spokesperson on finance David Maynier and MEC for economic opportunities Alan Winde were the frontrunners, with Winde believed to have scored highest in the DA’s rigorous selection interviews.
The DA’s federal executive was also meeting on Monday to decide who would be Cape Town’s next mayor, taking over from Patricia de Lille. Announcements on this and on the premier candidate are expected to be made on Tuesday.