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Mashaba: I’ll leave if DA is taken over by right-wing elements

Herman Mashaba touched on a number of thorny issues within the DA including transformation, his thoughts on leader Mmusi Maimane, as well as the post of federal council chair.

FILE: Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba's comments come at a time when several party leaders have been involved in sometimes public spats over apparent attempts to topple Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said he would leave the Democratic Alliance (DA) if the party was taken over by what he called right-wing elements and expressed concerns over the direction his party was taking.

Mashaba spoke to 702's Aubrey Masango on Tuesday night.

He touched on a number of thorny issues within the DA including transformation, his thoughts on leader Mmusi Maimane, as well as the post of Federal Council chair, which will be decided this weekend.

Four people including former DA leader Helen Zille, Athol Trollip, Thomas Walters and Mike Waters are vying for that post.

Mashaba's comments come at a time when several party leaders have been involved in spats over apparent attempts to topple Maimane.

When asked if Maimane is equal to the task, Mashaba said: “I think it is a difficult question. I think I am trying to really be honest with you because I’ve not really worked… let’s see, maybe people [will] give him the mandate on Sunday.”

Mashaba also said if things don't improve within the DA, he'd be out.

“If the DA is going to be taken over by right-wing elements, I am out of there.”

Masango asked Mashaba if he would consider joining the Economic Freedom Fighters, and stressed that the mayor didn’t deny that he could leave the DA.

“If the DA is taken over by the Institute of Race Relations, I would not want to be associated with such an organisation.”

Earlier in the week, former Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip said although there were calls for Maimane to step down, the party would not kick people out because of individuals calling for his head.

“We are not going to disappoint leaders or kick them out before the congress. There aren’t calls for an early congress and if there are, then we can elect a new leader or re-elect Maimane. We’re not going to kick leaders out because the media is calling for that or certain individuals outside or inside the party are calling for that.”

The IRR launched its #SaveTheOpposition campaign, which the think tank said was in response to the “dire state of opposition politics in South Africa”. But, interestingly the campaign seemed focused only on the DA following recent infighting within the official opposition party that had spilled into the public domain.

The IRR’s campaign also followed a controversial opinion piece last week by its campaign's coordinator and analyst, Hermann Pretorius, in which he called for the DA's leader to resign and for Western Cape Premier Alan Winde to succeed him to “return the party to a trajectory of growth”.

Maimane recently faced criticism over allegations that he had declared a house worth almost R4 million as one of his assets and drove a car donated by Steinhoff's Markus Jooste. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by the DA’s financial committee after he referred the matter to the committee for investigation.

The opinion piece prompted the DA’s chief whip John Steenhuisen to issue a scathing statement accusing the institute of having an “obsessive preoccupation” with the party’s internal political and ideological conversations. Steenhuisen called for the IRR to either join the DA to get involved in its internal matters or to form its own political party.

The IRR said in a statement: “The need for such a campaign became painfully clear over the past week when factional warfare within the DA flared up in public. The aim of the campaign is to highlight what should be done to ensure that opposition parties remain a check on a dangerous government implementing destructive policies.”

The institute said it was, in fact, its job to “interfere” in the affairs of business, government, and political parties “all the time to win their support for policies that will ensure South Africa’s success and the prosperity of all its people”.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe

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