He does not hate his successor as DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and wishes the party well, former DA leader Mmusi Maimane has said.
Maimane was addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Wednesday about his Movement for One South Africa (Mosa), but much of the questions centred around the party he had led until his resignation in October last year.
Over the weekend, he referred to the DA interim leader as “Judas Steenhuisen” in a tweet, eliciting a response from some members, notably Ghaleb Cachalia.
Maimane said he does not want to “advance vitriol on Twitter”.
“I don’t hate John Steenhuisen. I actually wish them [the DA] well,” he added.
Ironically, his address took place in the same room at the swanky Kelvin Grove Club in Newlands, Cape Town, where Steenhuisen had announced his candidature for the DA’s leadership last year.
On Monday, former youth leader Mbali Ntuli threw her hat in the ring to take on Steenhuisen in April. Asked if he had a preferred candidate, Maimane said no as he was not a member of the DA anymore.
He picked Steenhuisen to be his chief whip when he first became the DA’s parliamentary leader in 2014, and again after last year’s elections, which proved to be fatal for his future in the DA.
Of the report by a panel to assess the party’s dismal performance in the election, which he appointed after consultations within the party, he said there “were two different visions” for the DA and South Africa, rendering it “untenable” for him to further lead the party.
Maimane said he always believed the DA had to transform, and if it wanted to transform backwards, it was its choice.
“I am not concerned about it, I’m focused on the future,” he said about his departure from the party which he thanked for allowing him the opportunity to serve the people of South Africa.
What is clear from his thoughts on Mosa is a disillusionment with party politics and what he views as its inability to foster the reforms necessary for South Africa.
Maimane reiterated his movement would not be a political party but a platform around which politicians, civil society and religious bodies could coalesce.
“We need a South Africa 2.0,” he said. “We need a reset of what is going on in South Africa.”
Globally, Maimane said, it was not political parties effecting change, but movements.
Noting there already were 48 parties, he said he does not think a 49th party would “bring the change we need”.
High on his list of changes needed is holding public representatives accountable. Maimane is also propagating electoral reform, allowing for the direct election of public representatives rather than the current proportional system.
Other priorities are climate change, energy provision and improved education.
Maimane said he was not ideologically dogmatic – he believed the capitalist system needed to be transformed.
“We need to be pragmatic to fix this country,” he added.
The movement will be launched officially in March and it will be funded by individuals and crowdfunding. Currently, Maimane is working on a recruitment drive, advocacy and activism.
“I believe this movement has an opportunity to disrupt politics,” he said. “We can be the Uber of politics.”
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