Unlike ANC and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose much self-hyped euphoria of a new dawn is distantly far from the downtrodden, Maimane is honest about and remains true to his vision, despite coming under fire from white conservatives who hide behind a white voter alienation to preserve their white privilege at the expense of black poverty, writes MOLIFI TSHABALALA
In the opinion piece “Mmusi Maimane has Passed his Leadership Litmus Test,” I assert that an internecine DA v Zille matter was a blessing in disguise for DA leader Mmusi Maimane on two accounts: first, to come out of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s shadow and stamp his authority thereof, and, second, to declare a war on racism within the party. The DA had hauled its former leader before a disciplinary hearing for her assertion that not every aspect of colonialism was bad.
In the end, the parties reached an amicable settlement, as part of which the DA limited Zille’s role to government. Henceforth, Maimane has been on a fervent drive to further diversify and modernise the party to reflect the country’s demographics, not only in Parliament, which is predominantly white while black DA members are now in the majority, but also across party structures. At the 2018 Federal Congress, the DA inserted a diversity clause in its constitution to that effect.
A month later, Maimane has come under fire from his white conservative counterparts – including DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen and DA Federal Executive Deputy Chairperson Natasha Mazzone – within the party over his Freedom Day speech in Soshanguwe, Tshwane. Maimane spoke out against white privilege, which borders on racism and remains largely intact over two decades into democracy. Steenhuisen fervently opposed the diversity clause.
Meanwhile, Mazonne seems to suffer from a Zille’s parental poverty excuse. Every time Zille comes under fire over a racial issue, she tells us how her refugee father worked hard for her white privilege. Mazonne said the same about her dark-skinned father. Their excuse fits into the one often proffered by white born frees about an affirmative action and other legislative measures aimed at redressing colonialism and apartheid vestiges while they continue to enjoy white privilege at the expense of their black born frees counterparts, thanks to the ANC.
Mazonne and her fellow white conservatives should understand that Maimane wants to build a South Africa, as envisaged by former President Nelson Mandela, “in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.” He cannot do that without breaking down a wall that divides South Africa as the “two nations in one,” as characterised by Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki.
Ironically, the DA also characterises South Africa as the “two nations in one,” namely economic insiders and economic outsiders. Mazzone, Steenhuisen, and Zille are part of the white minority, a substantial majority of whom are economic insiders who own and control the means of production. In contrast, the black majority, who constitute over 30 million people living in destitution, are economic outsiders – that is, locked outside the mainstream economy.
The DA v Zille matter, as I allude to in the opinion piece, also presented the DA with an opportunity to devise a dispute resolution mechanism (DRM) to address two phases of factionalism it is entangled in, cooperation and competition, on which the diversity
clause centres. It failed to seize that opportunity. As a result, a melodramatic (former) Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille matter haunts it.
To start with, a non-provision of accountability clause – generally dubbed the ‘De Lille clause’ – in its constitution did not deter the DA from removing De Lille as mayor. In the DA v De Lille matter, the clause would have served as the means to bypass a disciplinary hearing, a democratic process to afford both parties an opportunity to state their sides.
A diverse party like the DA should have the DRM. A minor dispute may intensify a degree of factionalism within the party, depending on figures embroiled in it. De Lille’s matter is best suited for the DRM, not a disciplinary committee (DC), which should serve as a last resort for incorrigible offenders. More so, given that the matter has partitioned the caucus, resulting in an interregnum in the City. Hence, I concur with the ANC that the City should be placed under administration until the DA knows the difference between a party process and a state process.
By allowing the caucus to table a non-confidence motion in De Lille, the DA has set a precedent for its councillors to fight their factional battles in government. This precedent will haunt it in other municipalities.
At least De Lille is offering politically immature DA leaders free ‘Political 101’ lessons. If the Court upholds her application, the matter would revert to the DC, where an issue of unfair trial would inevitably come up, unless the DA appeal the ruling, which would drag the matter for a longer period. If the Court dismisses her application, she would most likely appeal the ruling, thus dragging the matter for the longer period much to the detriment of the party’s reputational damage in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
Indeed, Maimane has passed his leadership litmus test. Although Maimane and his EFF counterpart, Julius Malema, who are in their late 30s, still have much to learn to become great leaders, he has thus far proven himself to be a leader that South Africa needs to bring to life Mandela’s vision.
He possesses the three leadership characteristics of admired leaders, honesty, vision, and inspiration, which Barry Posner and James Kouzes enumerate in the book, Credibility. Unlike ANC and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose much self-hyped euphoria of a new dawn is distantly far from the downtrodden, Maimane is honest about and remains true to his vision, despite coming under fire from white conservatives who hide behind a white voter alienation to preserve their white privilege at the expense of black poverty.
Ramaphosa sloganeers the RET to silence his critics while in actual fact he does not mean and champion it. Not long ago, he unveiled a US$ 100 billion investment drive, which would essentially preserve white privilege. It fits into his description of what really constitute the RET – that is, not “a new, uncertain path … indicates a new phase of accelerated implementation of the long-standing economic policy positions of the ANC and government,” as clarified by Ramaphosa in his address at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
The definition differs fundamentally from that of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, who said it is a “fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.” Even if Ramaphosa can secure the US$100 billion or the economy could grow by 100%, it would not address black poverty without its fundamental change to bring the black majority into the mainstream economy as both owners and controllers of the means of production, not just jobs to sell their labour.
Maimane is a real agent of change, not a white puppet or a window dresser. Every black executive in a white establishment should take cue from him to bring about a real economic change for equal opportunities.
Tshabalala is an author and independent analyst
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