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In a News24 column, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba lashes out at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), following the classical liberal think-tank launching a campaign to "save the opposition" – which focused its attention on only one of the 13 opposition parties represented in the National Assembly, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which the mayor belongs to.

Rather than save the opposition, Mashaba believes the IRR's real goal is the "complete destruction" of DA leader Mmusi Maimane because of his commitment to the party's slogan: "One South Africa for All."

According to Mashaba, state capture is always preceded by capture of a political party "that is either in government or will be in government in the future".

He then invites readers to ask whether the DA is being "captured" by the IRR, in a similar way to how the "ANC was captured in the Saxonwold Shebeen long before our state institutions became the playground of the Gupta family".

He accuses the IRR of having people placed within the DA "who are working with them to implement a plan", after a private WhatsApp message sent to a colleague in the party was released by the think-tank.

The mayor notes reports ahead of the May 8 elections that various DA members considered breaking away to form a "true liberal party" with the IRR, saying these are the same people who are now trying to "capture and remake the DA in their image".

READ MORE: The media is right – what's happening within the DA is all about race

He disputes that the IRR are in fact liberals, stating that in his view they are "conservatives who refuse to see the idea of privilege or disadvantage located in the stark realities of contemporary South Africa".

He compares DA leader Mmusi Maimane to former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, saying while it was Nene's opposition to the nuclear deal that led to him being targeted and removed by the Guptas, in Maimane's case it is his "opposition to outsourcing policy to a conservative think-tank".

The full column can be read here.

The think-tank's campaigns coordinator Hermann Pretorius argued that it's their duty to "interfere" in the direction of the DA as that is the "function" of a think-tank.

The IRR is calling for donations, saying it wants to "continue pressuring the DA to expel racist leaders, stamp out corruption in the party, stop race-based policies, break off its alliance with the EFF, and appoint competent leaders".

It's critics, however, see the campaign as an attempt to cleanse the party of prominent black leaders and take the party back decades.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.) 

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