Interview with DA Leader Mmusi Maimane

To say that DA Leader Mmusi Maimane is hardworking and devoted to our beautiful country, would be an understatement. Read the exclusive interview with Mmusi below.

ChangeMaker (CM): You have said before that you are not a career politician but that you were called into politics by God. How does your faith influence your approach to leading the DA?

Mmusi Maimane (MM): My faith brought me to this point in my life and sustains me personally in my daily work leading an organisation like the DA. My faith is my daily bread and butter.

CM: Are your two small children used to seeing their dad on TV?

MM: During election time it is not just the TV – it’s radio, it’s billboards, and it’s placards on lampposts. But yes, it’s not something I ever imagined having to navigate through as a family. I must say the toughest part about my job is spending so much time apart from my children.

“My faith is my daily bread and butter.”


CM: You speak seven languages. What would you say is your mother tongue?

MM: My mother is from Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape and speaks isiXhosa, and my father is from the old Bophuthatswana in the North West and speaks Setswana. And so, growing up I spoke both Setswana and isiXhosa at home, while being taught in English at both primary and high school. Therefore, I wouldn’t say I have a mother tongue – I have three!

CM: Do you think South Africans should be taught in the language of their choice, wherever possible?

MM: We support the constitutional principle that every person has the right to be taught in the official language of their choice, where reasonably practicable. In line with this, we believe that more, and not less, official languages should be used as mediums of instruction and that all official languages should be developed for use as academic languages of instruction.

CM: Voters seem to have a lot of questions about the DA’s stance on ‘land expropriation without compensation’. Does the DA support expropriation without compensation?

MM: Land is a justice issue and there is a false dichotomy out there that suggests if you oppose expropriation without compensation you are opposed to righting the wrongs of the past. Section 25 of the Constitution protects private property rights as well as making provision for the restitution and reform of land. We support this constitutional provision and are fighting on that front. We envision a South Africa in which every person can own property, and that the circumstances of their birth is no impediment to them acquiring and accumulating wealth-creating assets. But the current government and fringe political parties must not use the Constitution as a scapegoat for their failure to secure effective land reform.

“Voting for smaller parties right now is tantamount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane

CM: Many look to the governments in Jozi and Tshwane and say that the DA and the EFF “are in bed together”. Is the DA in coalition with the EFF?

MM: The voters in Johannesburg and Tshwane rejected the ANC in 2016, as they failed to get a majority of votes. Therefore, the DA took over with the voting support of the EFF. We are not in coalition with the EFF, as we differ fundamentally on several core principles. The EFF remains in opposition in both Johannesburg and Tshwane. We are working hard to turn those cities around following two decades of looting and under-delivery of services.

CM: The build-up to this election has, increasingly, been characterised by identity politics. Why is the DA’s project of bringing South Africans together – across racial, religious and cultural lines – so important for the future of South Africa?

MM: Our country has a history of identity politics – from British Nationalism to Afrikaner Nationalism to African Nationalism. It’s all we’ve ever known. We are forging a new vision for South Africa by building a broad centre that can be a political home for all South Africans, no matter their age, income, gender, sexual orientation, religion or racial identity. In this South Africa, we are brought together by shared values, and this us at the core of our message of One South Africa for All. It is the only option for our country.

CM: Why is a vote for a smaller party a waste?

MM: The true test for any democracy is whether power can change peacefully at the ballot box. The challenge for South Africa is to fast arrive at this point, where the governing party is kept on their toes by the ever-present threat of losing power.

We cannot allow our country to fall prey to the entrenched single-party hegemony that continues to plague the African continent. The very founding values of our democracy are at stake. If we cannot hold rank failure and corruption to account, then can we really call ourselves a democracy at all? So, we urgently need to build a strong counterweight to the ANC, to show that another way is possible.

Voting for smaller parties right now is tantamount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Smaller parties will not stop our demise under the ANC and blur our focus on the biggest threat to our democracy: one-party dominance.

Under normal circumstances, the plethora of parties – 48 on the national ballot paper alone – should be welcomed as a sign of a vibrant democracy replete with plentiful options for voters to express their individual preferences.

But this is not a business-as-usual election; this is a fight for our survival.

So 8 May must be about building a credible alternative government, not about creating a wide-sprinkling of opposition parties on the fringe of our politics.


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