DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he stands by his contention that “white privilege” needed to be confronted.
This after Maimane had reportedly come under fire from leading white party members – chief whip John Steenhuisen, his deputy Mike Walters and federal executive deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone – at a weekend federal executive meeting over his comments on “white privilege”.
Maimane told a rally in Soshanguve on Freedom Day that “white privilege and black poverty” must be confronted.
Steenhuisen, Walters and Mazzone reportedly complained that the comments were alienating white voters ahead of next year’s general election.
They were also reportedly fearful they and other whites would lose their privileged positions in the DA as the selection of candidates was under way for the 2019 national and provincial elections.
The DA has been repeatedly slammed since while it claims to be a non-racial party, its parliamentary seats and leadership positions are overwhelmingly white.
In a tweet on Sunday, Maimane said: “I firmly stand by comments I made on Freedom Day. SA remains deeply unequal, with black SAns locked out of opportunities. We must focus on solving the problem. Liberation of one race is not the enslaving of another – all of us, black & white, must come together to build #1SA4All.”
In another tweet, he said: “The racists from all backgrounds will seek to divide. SA still remains deeply unequal on the basis of race. I won’t pander to the racists, will work with all to ensure that SA belongs to all who live in it, black & white. Let’s dismantle our yesterday & build our tomorrow.”
And: “I will continue to fight for a fair, free, diverse South Africa that offers opportunities for all.
“Our nation inherited a divided country on race. This government has not done enough to bring about the change we need for all to prosper. Together we can change this. #1SA4All.”
This came as the party grapples with leadership battles as several officials face the axe or suspension, including mayor Patricia de Lille, George mayor Melvin Naik and Matzikama mayor Rhenda Stephan.
DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said De Lille’s fate would be decided this week. At the weekend, the DA suspended its discussions on De Lille’s position pending legal advice.
The party said it had received legal papers from her on an intention to approach the courts.
De Lille disputed the claim, saying all she did, as “a matter of courtesy”, was send the party’s attorneys a copy of her draft papers which would have only been issued and served had the recall clause been invoked.
Political analyst Keith Gottschalk said transformation involved promotion for some careers and an end to other careers. “The DA is attempting something so challenging that it has only been done twice before in South African history.
“The Communist Party through the 1920s to 1930s changed from an overwhelmingly white party to an overwhelmingly black party. During the 1950s to 1960s the Liberal Party changed from predominantly white to roughly equal numbers of blacks and white.
“The DA proudly claims that a big majority of its members are black, but if you look down from the public gallery in Parliament, you see a huge slab of white faces in the DA benches. So its transformation involves promotion for some careers and an end to other careers, with all the tensions, hurts and conflicts this entails,” said Gottschalk.
“This transformation overlaps with DA tensions between the Old Progs, the ex-Nats, and the former IDs.”
Selfe denied the party was in a leadership crisis. The DA’s East Region in George requested the federal executive to suspend Naik from all party-related activities pending the outcome of the investigation by the Hawks.
The Matzikama Municipality’s DA caucus has tabled a motion of no confidence in Stephan. He said Stephan “has asked for and been granted an extension to provide reasons why she should not resign following a motion of no confidence”.
DA East Region head Jaco Londt said: “We take note that the mayor took leave from his council duties and we’re aware that he is innocent until proven guilty, but it is our responsibility to act politically and protect the brand and integrity of the party under the circumstances.”