Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane is a nice person, but you can’t be a nice person if you want to survive in political leadership.
This is how Helen Zille, chair of the DA’s federal council, said in a speech at the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday.
The party wanted Maimane, who resigned from the party last week, to remain as party leader. “Mmusi wanted to stay, but then he included a sentence in his speech. I asked afterward why he did it. He told someone else – not me – that he was ill-advised, “Zille said.
She doesn’t know what Maimane – whom she has a lot of respect for – is going to do now, but is sure he will remain standing. “He is very competent, but he is a nice person. You can’t be a nice person if you want to survive in political leadership. Very difficult.
“I’m sure he’ll find a way forward. I like Mmusi. I respect him, we were very close to each other until people started advising him that if he wanted to get rid of the label of the head of a white party and Zille’s puppet, which was totally false. They told him to crush Zille and no one would think you were a puppet anymore. That’s where all the problems started. The point is that he is a very good person and I think he has been poorly advised for a long time, “Zille said.
An interim DA leader and interim chairman is elected at a meeting of the DA’s federal council in Johannesburg on November 17. This was after Maimane and Athol Trollip resigned last week as DA leader and DA chairman respectively. Johannesburg’s outgoing Mayor Herman Mashaba also announced his resignation from office and party a day earlier.
She was with them in a federal executive leadership (Fedex) meeting on the day of their resignation and was unaware of their plans to resign. She found out something was going on when she started getting WhatsApp messages from outside the meeting. She stopped the meeting and asked them what was going on, after which Maimane and Trollip informed her of their plan to announce their resignations at a media conference half an hour later.
Both leaders were asked to reconsider that decision until after the federal leadership congress, but they refused.
“We have all urged Maimane to remain as the DA’s parliamentary leader. Everything was all right, but unfortunately, he went out and had a prepared speech in which he said he believed the DA was not the vehicle to take forward the party’s vision of a united South Africa.
“Now, if you said that and you believe you can stay as parliamentary leader. Well those two positions are totally incompatible and of course the parliamentary caucus revolted over it – black and white and whatever – and he resigned the next day before there was a motion of no confidence against him, ”Zille said.
She takes off her hat for Maimane who had the heart to appoint a review panel after the May election led by Ryan Coetzee, strategist and former DA MP Tony Leon, former DA leader, and Michiel le Roux , co-founder of Capitec.
Zille emphasized on a question that she “definitely” has no ambitions to become the DA leader again.