DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane secured number three on the party’s Gauteng province to national list, in the strongest indication yet he will mount a national political career this year.
This emerged on Saturday at the party’s list and premier candidates announcement in Gauteng, but Maimane claimed his high ranking on the national list was only because it was required of him in his role as national spokesman.
It emerged last year, however, that moves were afoot in the DA’s caucus to parachute Maimane to Parliament in a bid to replace unpopular parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who is disliked by the party’s old liberal guard.
Diminishing Maimane’s chances of success, however, should he make it to the fifth democratic Parliament, is the fact that the DA’s latest lists are notable in their lack of “old guard” MPs who have pushed for Mazibuko’s deposition.
Maimane’s propulsion to the national list also casts doubt on the party’s chances of winning Gauteng in this year’s general elections.
Notable losses from the DA caucus this coming election include Dene Smuts, who served with distinction on the National Assembly’s justice committee, earning respect from MPs across the floor.
While it’s unclear if Smuts chose not to apply, has decided to retire or simply did not make the cut, she was well known for her opposition to Mazibuko’s candidacy and for her closeness to former caucus leader Athol Trollip, who will be the DA’s premier candidate in the Eastern Cape.
Other DA MPs who don’t feature on the national lists include current chief whip Watty Watson, former whip Mike Waters, Manie van Dyk, who faced internal party disciplinary processes, and land and agriculture guru Lourie Bosman.
The party also appears to have drawn extensively on its young staff complement in an attempt to bring new blood into the caucus, a dynamic likely to boost Mazibuko’s chances of remaining at the helm.
These include current head of the DA’s parliamentary research unit, Phumzile van Damme, who is also the former spokeswoman for Western Cape finance MEC Alan Winde; Solly Malatsi, former spokesman for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille; Zak Mbhele, spokesman for Zille in her capacity as premier, and DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli. DA parliamentary staff member Christian Steyl and party Gauteng legislature communications staffer Marius Redelinghuys, who is a former Cope youth spindoctor, are also relatively young parliamentary hopefuls.
A surprise new addition on the list was that of former Wits deputy vice-chancellor Belinda Bozzoli who ranks 24th on the party’s Gauteng to national list, along with former Rapport journalist Zelda Jongbloed.
Meanwhile, the party is keeping mum on the identity of six “confidential candidates” that appear on the lists.
On Saturday Zille said the candidates may be from other political parties and still needed to inform their leaders, or were from professions where they needed time to resign and serve notice.
This comes in the wake of the suspension of Business Report’s Cape Town bureau chief Donwald Pressly, after it emerged that he had applied to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the DA.
There have also been reports of a number of journalists who had applied to be on the party’s candidate lists, with Business Day reporting that Sunday Times journalist Brendan Boyle was fired from the newspaper for applying to stand as a candidate for the party. Boyle has denied being a DA member.
Zille, herself a former journalist, was critical of journalists joining political parties while they were still in the profession, but claimed many journalists in South Africa were affiliated to political parties.
“I agree that you can’t be a member of a political party and a journalist. I believe that being a member of a political party is incompatible with some professions.
“Some of you (journalists) are affiliated to some political parties, and even though you don’t pronounce it, I can see it through your writing,” Zille said.
Among some of the candidates announced on Saturday were a former administrative official in The Presidency during Thabo Mbeki’s tenure, Ricardo McKenzie, who is a former private secretary of Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. An SAPS member, Brigadier Pule Thole, also appears on the party list.
According to Zille, the party did not consider race and gender quotas in its selection of candidates to send to Parliament and provincial legislatures after this year’s elections.
While many of the premier candidates are already leaders of the party in their provinces, there were new faces in the various lists for candidates to send to Parliament.
According to Zille, all the leaders in the party had to apply, regardless of their seniority or length of service to the party, as they were looking for diversity in leadership.
“The DA does not believe in quotas. In any event, a recent high court judgment ruled that quotas are unconstitutional, so we don’t have quotas. What we do consider strongly, though, is diversity.
“If you look at our candidates, all you see is diversity, and that is our point of departure,” Zille said.
Maimane downplayed the significance of his placement on the national list for his premier campaign. “It is because of my role as the national spokesperson. It has nothing to do with me wanting to go to Parliament. “My primary focus is Gauteng, and the voters and residents of Gauteng know that. It is really not an issue,” Maimane said.
According to Maimane, there were many other leaders who appeared on both lists.
Some of the provincial lists saw leaders like Gauteng North chairman, Solly Msimanga, and DA Joburg councillor Vasco da Gama nominated to the provincial legislature in Gauteng.
Former Cope Youth leader Malusi Booi also appears on the list for the Gauteng legislature and Parliament. Another notable nomination is that of DA MP Masizole Mnqasela, who appears to have been demoted, with only a nomination for the Western Cape legislature.
Western Cape: Helen Zille
Gauteng: Mmusi Maimane
Northern Cape: Andrew Louw
Free State: Patricia Kopane
North West: Chris Hattingh
KwaZulu-Natal: Sizwe Mchunu
Eastern Cape: Athol Trollip
Limpopo: Langa Bodlani
Mpumalanga: Anthony Benadie - Sunday Independent