Following the DA’s capturing of key metros in the local government elections, its plans for the 2019 national elections are under the spotlight, and so is its party leader. Mmusi Maimane has come under fire from the ANC for years, and in the lead up to these polls, the Economic Freedom Fighters for issues ranging from his ‘changing accent’ to accusations that he’s heading up a ‘white party’.
His meteoric rise began when, as a complete unknown, he was named the DA’s mayoral candidate for Johannesburg for the 2011 local government elections. He failed, but soon became national spokesperson, then the party’s candidate for premier in the 2014 national elections, then Parliamentary leader, and now, leader of the party. Was he groomed from the beginning? Has he been controlled by a white faction in the party? Or is he visionary who might one day become president of the country?
This is the subject of a new book by Sunday Times journalist, S’thembiso Msomi. Msomi starts by confessing the doubts he had when Maimane was named DA leader, admitting that he has failed before to foresee the rise of other leaders, including Barack Obama and Julius Malema. It’s now impossible to deny Maimane’s importance in shaping South Africa’s politics, so a book such as this comes at a crucial time.
In the book, Msomi explores Maimane’s childhood in Soweto and his school life that saw him leave behind the dusty township streets for a prestigious, Model-C school and how this shaped his political career, by speaking to a close childhood friend. How does Maimane’s family and community, coming from a traditional ANC stronghold, view him? Msomo interviews the man who spent several years recruiting Maimane into the party, Ian Ollis, and asks what was it about him others saw that made them believe he could be a leader. Maimane, as it’s revealed, believed he’s ordained be God to do so. Msomi examines various scenarios he believes shows Maimane’s independence. He also explores the DA leader’s relationship with the radical EFF leader, Julius Malema. Frustratingly, Msomo stops short of making a pronouncement about Maimane.
But when Andrea van Wyk spoke to him, she pushed him for an answer about whether he believes Maimane is a puppet or his own man, a visionary or a lackey. Listen to the interview (first played on PowerFm on 11 September) or download for later:
This interview was first played on PowerFM on 11 September 2016.