Maimane: ‘I have nothing to hide, they are running a campaign to discredit me’

2019-09-30 00:00

We warned him about getting too close to the old boys’ club and now he is getting burnt

Under-fire DA leader Mmusi Maimane has dared his detractors to present a candidate to contest him, amid what he is calling “a smear campaign”.

City Press has learnt that the party leader has been canvassing provincial leaders to throw their full weight behind him in the run-up to next month’s sitting of the federal council, the highest decision-making body between congresses.

Maimane told City Press last week that there was a move to taint him by leaking to the media a series of stories about him to weaken his position.

“I have nothing to hide, they are running a campaign to discredit me and, ultimately, I have put the facts before the party. We are focused on building a DA for all South Africans and if people want to continue this thing in the public they must be able to provide evidence,” he said.

Referring to a story written by City Press’ sister publication, Rapport – relating to Maimane’s declaration of a Cape Town house which he does not own – the leader said that there would be an “orchestrated attempt” to paint a picture of him leading a “funded lifestyle”.

Read: The curious case of Mmusi Maimane’s R4m house

Amid claims that the businessperson who owns the Cape Town house is a funder of the party, Maimane said he was no longer a donor.

He had been a donor before Maimane became to party leader.

“These people think that we are nervous. They think that we are scared,” he said of those plotting his demise, without mentioning any names.

It is his former boys’ club, which is surrounding him now and they have the files

A number of DA federal executive (FedEx) members told City Press that Maimane was facing off with former allies who had access to his personal information.

“It is his former boys’ club, which is surrounding him now and they have the files. We warned him about getting close to them and now he is getting burnt. We don’t know what will come next but they are coming for him,” a member said.

At last week’s FedEx meeting Maimane proposed that the elective congress, scheduled for 2021 – the same year as local government elections – be bought forward.

“There was some practicality in the proposal because there is an election in 2021 and the party cannot be in congress mode in an election year; we must focus on the elections. Second, the surest way to remove the leader and elect another one is at a congress.

“I wanted to be in a position where I say, ‘let them bring their candidate’, so that people can stop this smear campaign. If you have a candidate, bring one.”

Maimane said in the meeting the majority view was in support of him continuing with his tenure.

“People who sit at FedEx, which is a decision-making structure, are very clear that we don’t need a different leader. We have a mandate and we are moving.

“Why try now to create a revolving door or to create the impression there is no confidence in the current leader?” he said of the decision to not have an early conference. “When it comes to provinces, the provinces have got confidence in the leader; it is just a small group who do not.”

Read: Good news for under-fire Maimane as DA rejects call for early congress

One of the meetings with provincial leaders was allegedly held on the sidelines of last week’s FedEx sitting.

A person privy to the discussion told City Press that Maimane spoke of being under threat.

“He was alleging that he is under threat and the core or true liberals want to either break out and start their own thing or to get him out and put their own person in,” the source said.

They said that although FedEx had opted to support the leader, some in the party were cautious of mounting a “campaign” in support of the party leader, having been let down previously.

“You will go in to bat for that guy, only for him to throw you under the bus in those meetings – so I will watch from afar for now.

“He is definitely in trouble, but obviously we wouldn’t support someone from the other side [so-called true liberals], so we will wait and see what his plan is before getting behind it.”

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February 23 2020