Mmusi Maimane 'inconsistent and conflict averse', DA report finds

DA leader Mmusi Maimane is facing leadership crisis.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane is facing leadership crisis.
Image: Thulani Mbele

A report commissioned by DA leader Mmusi Maimane into his party's poor performance during the last elections gives a devastating assessment of his leadership, fuelling belief that he is now politically a dead man walking.

The report, which was discussed at the party's federal council at the weekend, was released in full by the DA yesterday after weeks of its snippets being reported on by sections of the media.

It was compiled by a panel chaired by former DA chief strategist Ryan Coetzee and whose other members were former party leader Tony Leon and business personality Michiel le Roux.

Its release, a day after Maimane and his supporters suffered a humiliating defeat following the election of his predecessor Helen Zille as the new DA federal council chairperson, is likely to further weaken Maimane's position within the party's structures and embolden those calling for his immediate resignation.

 

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The 13-page report largely blames the DA's poor performance in the May general elections, where the party lost some of its support to the Freedom Front Plus, on "a failure of effective leadership" on Maimane's part.

In compiling the report, the three panel members interviewed "over 200" party members and leaders and held a series of meetings with key office bearers.

"The overwhelming view of those who made submissions or with whom we held discussions is that the party leader, while immensely talented. can be indecisive, inconsistent and conflict averse," the report says.

This, it adds, has led to a "lack of clarity about the DA's vision and direction, confusion about the party's position on key issues, the erosion of party unity and deep divisions within the party caucus in the National Assembly.

"It is striking that some or all of these views were expressed by almost every person or delegation we met.," reads the report.

The report further reveals that the relationship between Maimane, then federal council chairperson James Selfe, chief whip John Steenhuisen "has become dysfunctional".

Herman Mashaba resigned from his post as Johannesburg mayor on October 21 2019. He listed unhappiness with the direction of the DA as a major factor for his departure. This leaves an uncertain future for the coalition in the city. Sunday Times political reporter Zingisa Mvumvu reports.

These findings are likely to make it difficult for Maimane to mount a successful campaign for re-election when the party holds its next elective congress.

The report further showed that the party lost votes across all races in all nine provinces between the 2016 local elections and the 2019 national polls.

The panel's diagnosis found that there was "significant and widespread concern" regarding the effectiveness of Maimane and wider federal leadership.

It said significant changes were required, including the stepping down of Maimane, recently retired Selfe and Paul Boughey who resigned last week.

Maimane's tweet in support of rugby analyst Ashwin Willemse was also found to be among "many varied disputes over race issues" which damaged the party's brand and dented its support levels.

In May last year, after Willemse had walked out of a live SuperSport broadcast, alleging that Naas Botha and Nick Mallett had patronised and discriminated against him, Maimaine tweeted in Willemse's support.

"@Ashwinwillemse experienced yesterday is still sadly an experience for too many South Africans. We must build an equal society, where we confine to history a system of racial superiority and inferiority. We must continue to pursue a Diverse SA however difficult it is," Maimane May 20 tweet read.

The water crisis in Cape Town and the handling of the "protracted and confusing ejection" of Patricia de Lille from the party were among the issues that the report highlighted as factors behind its electoral support drop.

The scathing report also found that the party failed to factor in and plan for the ascendancy of President Cyril Ramaphosa in the ANC and the country.

Although without elaborating further, the report stated that Helen Zille's tweets about colonialism and the the subsequent handling thereof were among issues behind its loss of support.

The report found that the black support for the DA went down from 5.9% during the 2016 local government elections to 4% in 2019, while the coloured vote dropped from 75% to 69% with the Indian vote slid from 77.3% to 68.7%.

Herman Mashaba has resigned as the mayor of Johannesburg on October 21 2019. His resignation comes after former DA leader Helen Zille was elected as the party's new federal council chairperson.

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