The DA’s federal executive has rejected a proposal made by its embattled leader Mmusi Maimane for an early congress.
City Press has learnt that the majority of the decision-making body thought it unwise to bring forward the elective congress, which is scheduled for 2021 and where Maimane would be seeking re-election.
According to Maimane’s sympathisers, the rejection of the early congress bodes well for the party leader, who believes that the refusal to consider an early congress is an endorsement of his leadership.
This is the second time in recent months that the federal executive has entertained the call for an early congress.
When the matter was first raised, it was alleged that the party’s chief executive, Paul Boughey, pointed out that the DA was not in a position to spend the amount of money required for such an event.
City Press has in recent weeks reported on looming retrenchments and the cancelling of bonuses this year due to the party’s dire financial position.
A member of the federal executive told City Press that the move signalled that Maimane had the backing of provincial leaders, weakening any potential moves to remove him.
National spokesperson Solly Malatsi confirmed that the federal executive had discussed an early congress and rejected it.
Solly Malatsi. Picture: Peter Abrahams
“The federal executive was of the view that an early congress would be undesirable given that the current leadership was elected as recently as 18 months ago to serve its mandate,” Malatsi said.
Maimane has been under fire since the party failed to grow in this year’s national elections.
Two members of the federal executive are said to have sought clarity from Maimane on the status of his home following a report last Sunday by City Press’ sister publication Rapport that he did not own the home he had declared in Parliament.
Maimane allegedly gave an impassioned address to the party’s parliamentary caucus on Thursday in which he complained that the home in which he lived with his family had been disclosed to the public.
The sentiment was echoed in a statement from the federal executive, which in part read: “The federal executive discussed the matter of the DA leader’s private home, and the body is satisfied with Mr Maimane’s response. There is no sense that any law or regulation has been violated. We are concerned with the manner in which Rapport reported the matter by publishing a picture of the leader’s home on its front page last week Sunday. This amounts to a violation of his privacy as well as that of his family.”
Those who sought clarity wanted Maimane to produce the lease agreement, which would supply details about whether Maimane was in fact paying market value for it.
One MP told City Press that the party leader could not avoid answering to the claims indefinitely.
“No one was really moved when he spoke at the caucus on Thursday. It came across like he wanted sympathy, but I can’t say anyone really bought it. He must come clean and be honest about what is happening because people will keep digging. He has an office full of people who handle his admin, so it doesn’t make sense that a mistake was made.”
Another MP raised concerns about the call for an early congress, saying it was irresponsible.
“We don’t have the money. It is odd that he would call for that congress just to prove that he is in charge while knowing how bad the books look. It is not the greatest display of leadership,” the MP said.
Meanwhile, a provincial leader has laid a formal complaint – which will be investigated – against MP Ghaleb Cachalia for his role in the establishment of the 1959 Committee of the Parliamentary Caucus of the DA, a lobby group within the parliamentary caucus.
At the time, chief whip John Steenhuisen criticised plans to formalise the group, saying it undermined the caucus.
The federal executive also discussed the party’s bad showing in recent by-elections, calling on MPs to use the upcoming constituency period to engage voters.
“The federal executive reflected deeply on the by-elections that took place after the general elections. We are deeply concerned with the results, especially where we have lost ground. In this regard, the federal executive has directed that, during the two-week constituency period, MPs intensify their efforts in communities, and provincial leaders must continue with their engagements with their structures as we build towards the 2021 local government elections,” its statement read.