The battle to unseat the revolutionary ANC party is heating up in South Africa. But many across the world would be forgiven for thinking Julias Malema was currently the official opposition leader in the House of Assembly (South Africa’s Parliament) but as a matter of fact it is not EFF that is currently the main opposition.
The Democratic Alliance lead by Mmusi Aloysias Maimane is currently the official opposition party in South Africa. But who is Mmusi Maimane?
Mmusi Maimane hopes to lead South Africa after the 2019 election. He is the current leader of the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), with the hope of loosening the African National Congress’ (ANC) tight political grip.
Born on the 6 June 1980 the former leader of the DA in the Johannesburg City Council and the former DA National Spokesperson. Maimane was elected leader of the DA at the party’s 2015 Federal Congress. Maimane succeeded Helen Zille as leader of the party and became the first black South African to lead the DA.
When he took the official oppositions’ reigns, he was touted as the fresh face which would compliment the DA’s brand of inclusive change. While Maimane’s presence in the public eye has not been as visible as that of his rival, the vocal Julias Malema. Maimane helped to grow the party’s voter base considerably.
But South African politics is not a walk in the park. While Maimane enjoyed a newfound popularity amongst his political party colleagues, strife on the horizon would soon remind the DA leader that the political landscape was illuminated by the floodlights of intense scrutiny.
Just a few months after Maimane took the leadership of the DA, he was forced to navigate the country’s tumultuous political landscape.
Maimane faced staunch criticism for his handling of an internal DA disciplinary which centred on the party’s Shadow Minister of Police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, and her controversial Facebook post.
Barnard had a shared a post from suggesting that life in South Africa was better under former apartheid President PW Botha. Despite deleting the post and apologising publicly, pressure fell on Maimane to act without prejudice.
Maimane’s inaction with regards to the scandal hurt public perception surround the DA. Although Maimane tried to explain that the DA needed to treat Kohler Barnard fairly, the issue damaged public relations along with inter-party ties.
Many across South Africa and indeed the world know more about the firebrand EFF leader Julias Malema than they do about Maimane who in fact is the official opposition leader.
While Julias Malema is seen as the champion of black South Africans and a fighter for black peoples rights and return of land without compensating the whites.
Maimane is seen as an ‘Uncle Tom’ more protective of white privilege. The racist history of his party has not helped his predicament neither have his actions in the recent past.
Maimane’s trip to Israel in 2017 also came under scrutiny from political parties and civil rights groups who had chosen to boycott the country for its ‘apartheid-like’ regime embattling Palestine.
Maimane faced his biggest internal political dispute in 2017 when he was forced to act against the DA’s matriarch, Helen Zille, who had tweeted about the legacy of colonialism having some positives. The Western Cape Premier apologised and added that her opinions weren’t meant to outrage the public.
Maimane referred the matter to a DA disciplinary process, despite public calls for Maimane, as leader of the DA, to axe Zille. Since the fallout, Maimane has admitted that his relationship with Zille had been strained.
The question is can Maimane lead South Africa?
Is he able to shake off the ‘Uncle Tom’ tag that has been attached to him?Can he really unseat the ANC? Given he has struggled to out shine Malema who has overshadowed him since coming on as leader of EFF?
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