NATIONAL NEWS - While on a publicity campaign, newly elected interim leader for the Democratic Alliance (DA) John Steenhuisen has confirmed former party leader Mmusi Maimane was not “axed or edged” out from the party and that it was Maimane’s personal choice to vacate his post in the party.
Fielding a plethora of questions from callers on PowerFM, Steenhuisen said he and Maimane were friends even though he had not been in contact with Maimane since his exit.
Asked why he hadn’t called Maimane, he said “there was still some ground to be covered there,” and added that he believed Maimane should not have left in the manner he did.
He said he advised Maimane about the challenges of starting another party, should the former leader opt for that as his political future.
“It is a lot harder to start another party,” Steenhuisen said.
“Maimane was not asked to resign… nowhere did it say he was expected to step down.”
A caller insinuated that Maimane being the face of the party inspired black voters to migrate to the party but Steenhuisen said research indicated that black voters did not necessarily vote for a party with a black leader. The caller claimed this would change and the DA would now lose numbers, as Maimane’s exit signalled that the DA had little faith in the leadership of black people.
Steenhuisen added that the DA intended to maintain its coalitions with the EFF and would work with the party to secure a suitable candidate to replace outgoing mayor Herman Mashaba. He made it clear that the candidate would preferably be of the DA’s choosing and that the party was not willing to endorse a candidate put forward by the EFF, who they will meet for negotiations this week.
Steenhuisen said he looked forward to growing the party while building a non-racial society as well focusing on redress, to ensure that those who were previously disadvantaged were granted opportunity.
“We want to build a modern compassionate party, that will uplift people…”
According to him, the DA plans to take a “back-to-basics approach” in building organic trust in communities. With excitement, Steenhuisen said the party had looked at their historic roadmaps which identified where things went wrong and were now on a plan to grow the party while regaining public confidence.