Makashule Gana, a deputy federal chairperson of the Democratic Alliance, has rubbished reports linking him to a palace revolt against Johannesburg caucus leader Mmusi Maimane. There are no such plans, apparently. Is this factional politics splitting the opposition in Gauteng? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Over the weekend, the newpaper reports claimed that some councillors were plotting against Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the DA caucus in Johannesburg, and would ask for a motion of no confidence him on Tuesday at the caucus meeting. He is thought to be caught up in a jostle with Gauteng South regional leader Khume Ramulifho and Gauteng provincial legislature caucus leader Jack Bloom for the nomination of Gauteng leader in the upcoming national and provincial elections in 2014. The party believes that it has an opportunity to win the province.
The Sunday Times report said: “When the caucus meets on Tuesday, Maimane will be challenged for failing to take action against the DA chief whip in the city of Johannesburg council, Dot Corrigan. She is to be investigated by the city’s ethics committee for allegedly violating the city’s tender policies. It is claimed she offered business to a company that is not on the city’s database to organise the DA’s year-end party in 2012. Maimane’s detractors are unhappy that he has not removed or suspended Corrigan pending the investigation.”
Maimane was quoted dismissing the allegations as “electionitis” and said that his focus was on the elections. The story also claimed that fellow deputy federal chairperson Gana was part of a drive to oust him for weak leadership, for failing to organise a caucus annual meeting last year.
Gana vehemently denied this to Daily Maverick. He said, “This is a manufactured story. I can tell you now that there is no plan to bring a motion of no confidence against Maimane. There are people out there who do not want to come out – they find comfort in using our names instead.
“I have no interest in taking on Maimane. What would I gain, besides damaging the good name of the Democratic Alliance?”
Gana said that his relationship with Maimane was excellent. “I don’t know what these anonymous sources are thinking. I am friends with Mmusi and Khume and we do not see each other as opponents,” he said.
“It would be wishful thinking to say that everyone in caucus is happy. However, once a decision has been taken we must rally behind it. If there are grievances, they must be aired openly,” he said.
In October 2011, Lindiwe Mazibuko became the leader of the opposition in Parliament, beating out Athol Trollip. Later that year, Maimane was announced as the new national spokesperson (he was the mayoral candidate for Johannesburg in the 2011 local elections), while in Gauteng the following year John Moodey won against Ian Ollis to become the provincial leader. Gauteng South is recently led by Ramulifho, while Solly Msimanga is the Gauteng North leader. This new face of the party has been hailed as the one to deliver the province to the DA in the next elections.
Gana served as Moodey’s campaign manager, but he said that he did not believe that his perceived closeness to the provincial party leader was the cause for the rumours. “I don’t think that my relationship with John [Moodey] has anything to do with it,” he said. “People have their own motives.
“I am beginning to question why I am getting pulled into something that I have nothing to do with. Maybe some people within the DA do not want us to win Gauteng in 2014 so that they can say, ‘You will never win anything as long as Gana is in that position’, but I don’t have the time to worry about this kind of rubbish,” Gana said.
In the 2011 local government elections, the ANC won 60.8% of the vote in Gauteng, while the DA got 33.4% of the vote. The party got 26.3% in the 2006 elections and 30.8% in 2000. The party requires an additional one million votes and more to secure the province, though growth in the number of votes in the last 15 years has not been close to being that rapid. The leaders of the province hope that a mixture of disgruntled former ANC voters and an injection of new voters with no iron-cast political allegiances will help secure them the vote. The task is indeed ambitious.
The enormity of the challenge is precisely why people should be focusing on political activism rather than palace squabbles, Gana said. “We are doing well in terms of preparation for the elections. We’ve been training many activists around Gauteng. This weekend alone we trained 2,500 people. I’ve also got two political schools that I’ve opened. That is what I’m focusing on,” he said.
Soon after he was elected, Moodey told Daily Maverick that he hoped to take a new face to the disillusioned voters of the ruling party. He said: “The ground has been prepared through 18 years of broken promises. They are now waiting for us to introduce ourselves and tell them what we are about.”
It will prove impossible to convince the people of Gauteng to change their vote if they are presented with yet another option that brings with it factionalism and the stagnation and poor service delivery that comes with it. Moodey will have broken one promise before the elections even begin if he does not get to the bottom of the rift that has appeared on his watch. DM
Photo: Musi Maimane, Makashule Gana
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