Mmusi Maimane: A frank and brutal appraisal [Opinion]

AntiGanda

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DA leader Mmusi Maimane lacks boldness and conviction, and must still prove his mettle to hold South Africa’s top office

Gareth van Onselen
04 December 2015

The DA recently unveiled its annual Cabinet report card, in which it rated the performance of members of the executive over the course of 2015. Understandably, the managers of the ANC administration fared very badly; none worse than President Jacob Zuma, who scored an F-. The report described the president as having "failed South Africa on all accounts".

It is worth, however, having a look at the performance of DA leader Mmusi Maimane himself. With his election in May, the DA heralded a new era. Soon after, there was the prediction the party would be in national power by 2019, which is just three years away. So, by the DA’s reckoning, Maimane is effectively a president in waiting and the party faithful have wasted little time painting him as such ever since. His performance as party leader, then, is worth critical evaluation.

Constitutional Confusion

Maimane’s election campaign was marked by a series of problematic statements. Two of these involved his support for a referendum on "gay rights" and the death penalty, effectively suggesting the Bill of Rights be put to the popular vote. "Gay rights" — a rather self-defeating phrase — are, of course, human rights, regulated by the equality clause in the Constitution. In turn, the right to life was found to be incompatible with the death penalty.

Of "gay rights" Maimane said: "Well, if South Africans felt that they needed to vote on the issue, they should." That sentiment marked his attitude towards the death penalty, too, saying "… I think the people should be entitled to choose if they so want to", he told the Sunday Times.

Maimane repeated this position in a later interview. He said, despite his personal disapproval of the death penalty, our democracy "upholds the fact that if people — it’s by the people for the people — and if people want to vote on it the people must vote on it".

Later there was much back-tracking as Maimane sought to undo his error. "I would stand up straight and say I don’t support a referendum on the death penalty." As far as flip-flops go, he had started with a profound one.

There was a broader context to Maimane’s remarks on "gay rights", however.

He had for many years prior to and during his earlier political years served as pastor at Liberty Church. Its attitude to homosexuality is as abhorrent as it is extensive. Its senior pastor, DJ McPhail, has said: "Homosexuality is the result of idolatry — self-worship — like every other sin."

It emerged that, from the pulpit, Maimane has suggested as much himself, saying he wanted to be a "friend of sinners", and so was grateful that "in my friendship circles there are Muslims, there are gay people — because I believe that is what God has called us to do. I take the verse that Jesus says, ‘I didn’t come for the well but I came for the sick’."

Last month the DA in KwaZulu-Natal berated the Shembe Church for a series of homophobic remarks (DA appalled by Anti-gay sentiments) but, when it came to Maimane’s church, the party had little to say. Maimane later fell over himself to explain away his own statement. More telling, however, is that for years he intricately associated with Liberty Church without ever once raising any objection to its depiction of homosexuality.

Maimane’s troubles with the Constitution extend to the rule of law. As leader, he had an opportunity to distance himself from the decision to "welcome" into the party’s membership ranks AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, a man convicted of kidnapping, assault and arson among other things. Instead, when the king’s conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals, Maimane suggested in an interview the monarch’s initial sentence counted for little; that it was only once someone had gone through the appeals process that they could be judged guilty.

When Freek Robinson put it to Maimane in October that Dalindyebo had already been found guilty by a court of law when the DA signed him up, Maimane said: "He had gone on appeal! He had gone on appeal. And he is entitled to do so. The laws of the country give us that right. And he went on appeal…."

In all these cases, Maimane’s rudimentary constitutional confusion is deeply worrisome. The DA, and Maimane in particular, paints itself as the true custodian of the country’s Constitution. But its leader’s grip on some of the most basic tenets is shaky at best, and that is being generous.
...

http://www.rdm.co.za/politics/2015/12/04/mmusi-maimane-a-frank-and-brutal-appraisal
 

JStrike

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GvO has a very specific view of what the DA and the leader of the DA should be.

I, on the other hand, don't believe political parties need to be that rigid, and should be more fluid
 

AntiGanda

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No DA fanbois?
They don't post such things, which is a symptom :D

Van Onselen is/was a DA insider, so his views are quite revealing. He's always been quite enlightened and has resisted the cultish nature of the party.
 

JStrike

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They don't post such things, which is a symptom :D

Van Onselen is/was a DA insider, so his views are quite revealing. He's always been quite enlightened and has resisted the cultish nature of the party.

While he is quite enlightened, he is a pure liberal (In the actual sense. Not how the word is thrown around these days). Which I don't think is a tenable position anymore
 

Voicy

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I'm no fan of the DA. I get rather annoyed by my friends who say that anyone who doesn't vote for the DA is an idiot...not seeing the irony in their party's name.

Zille's anti atheist remarks also didn't sit well with me and it seems by many counts that the DA is a party that changes as the wind blows, to support the flavour of the day. It's not entirely their fault though. They're stuck between carrying the vote of the conservative whites as well as picking up votes from those who see the ANC for what they are. Unfortunately, these are two entirely different demographics...and I think once the DA gets into power one day, it's going to be a very interesting time to see how they try to please everyone.

Maimane is a good speaker, but he's no Tony Leon.

As far as votes go, it's more a case of voting AGAINST the ANC than voting FOR the DA.
 

zululami

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Maimane is waaaay too lame and overly obsessed with the ANC, not in touch with the people and will never be the President of South Africa - but Malema may... Not because Malema is the best man for the job - but because is a smarter politician.
 

ProfA

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As far as votes go, it's more a case of voting AGAINST the ANC than voting FOR the DA.
'
That in my opinion is the silliest way to vote as it means you can basically just go and vote for anybody which spreads the non-anc votes into many smaller parties, all with zero clout.
 

MickeyD

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It is a fair opinion piece, sometimes a bit petty, but it does reflect some of what many of us are saying as well.

Now, can GvO perform a similar review on JZ?
 

AntiGanda

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I'm no fan of the DA. I get rather annoyed by my friends who say that anyone who doesn't vote for the DA is an idiot...not seeing the irony in their party's name.

Zille's anti atheist remarks also didn't sit well with me and it seems by many counts that the DA is a party that changes as the wind blows, to support the flavour of the day. It's not entirely their fault though. They're stuck between carrying the vote of the conservative whites as well as picking up votes from those who see the ANC for what they are. Unfortunately, these are two entirely different demographics...and I think once the DA gets into power one day, it's going to be a very interesting time to see how they try to please everyone.

Maimane is a good speaker, but he's no Tony Leon.

As far as votes go, it's more a case of voting AGAINST the ANC than voting FOR the DA.
The DA once said that Tony Leon was far too confrontational with government. That may seem like a joke now.
 

ProfA

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if you really can't find the differences, I recommend you have to consult your psychiatrist.

Perhaps you need to go to school and ask for your school fees back. You asked which is better (which answer is based on my opinion). Not the difference between the two.
 

ProfA

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if you really can't find the differences, I recommend you have to consult your psychiatrist.

Perhaps you need to go to school and ask for your school fees back. You asked which is better (which answer is based on my opinion). Not the difference between the two.
 

bokdrol

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People should vote more strategically to make a difference, even if you don't agree with 100% of what the party stands for.
 

thestaggy

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...and it seems by many counts that the DA is a party that changes as the wind blows, to support the flavour of the day.

A political party that says what people want to hear, colour me surprised.

All I do is look at the way the WC is run in comparison to the other 8 provinces and that is how I decide who I am voting for.
 

AntiGanda

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It is a fair opinion piece, sometimes a bit petty, but it does reflect some of what many of us are saying as well.

Now, can GvO perform a similar review on JZ?
The DA already does the report card effort about the ANC. It would take an ANC insider to do it.
 
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