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'Elections were tough,' says Mmusi Maimane after DA support drops

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in the Results Operation Centre in Tshwane, on May 9 2019, where the counting of votes is taking place.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in the Results Operation Centre in Tshwane, on May 9 2019, where the counting of votes is taking place.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he is not worried that the DA's failure to significantly increase its support in this year's elections will cost him his party position.

Speaking to journalists at the IEC results centre in Pretoria, Maimane said the 2019 general election was "not an internal DA popularity contest".

Maimane said he was confident he would remain DA leader until the party's next national congress in 2021.

LISTEN: Will Mmusi Maimane keep his job?

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"This is not a leadership contest. The people of the DA know that we went out and fought for an incredible dream, and we went hard and fought for holding the centre of politics," said Maimane.

"I am not worried … because I know that the party that I lead has got complete support towards that project. When I took over four years ago, that was the project and it is still the project, so I am not worried at all. This is not a popularity contest."

DA federal council chairperson Athol Trollip said all DA leaders were equally responsible for the party's electoral performance, which had so far seen it failing to increase its support from 2014.

It's the first time since 1999 that the DA has not increased its voter support.

Trollip said it was "unfair" for Maimane to be expected to rate himself.

"Mmusi Maimane was elected until 2021. He will continue to lead this party until next congress," said Trollip. "This was the most important and heavily contested election since 1994 and Mmusi Maimane led a team - but we all take responsibility."

Maimane said the DA faced a tough election in which it competed against parties driving a nationalist campaign anchored on polarising issues, such as race.

Watch the moment it was announced that DA had won the Western Cape.

He said that despite swimming against the tide of populist politics, he was pleased the DA had made inroads into ANC strongholds, including Soweto.

Maimane said the DA was "holding the centre" to realise the dream of a prosperous nation.

"We are going to take this party forward, to grow in more communities, because ultimately it is about holding the centre.

"One day this country will enter into a post-liberation movement era and that is what this project is about. It is about breaking the back of that so that one day we can live with a party that will contest against racial nationalism at its best.

"This election has been about a realignment. It was about bringing together a centre ground that the DA will occupy ... because there has been rising nationalism and parties that stand for that have been, in some way, rewarded."

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