Maimane: Equity quotas are racist

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Mmusi Maimane is the DA's premier candidate in Gauteng. Photo: Mujahid Safodien

Johannesburg - DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane has effectively nixed equity quotas in their party’s list processes, saying these were “fundamentally racist”.

His comments were made at an Independent Newspapers-Wits debate in Joburg last night, when he was asked about the number of black African candidates the party had nominated to go to the Gauteng legislature.

In Gauteng only five African candidates made it into the party’s top 20 spots: Maimane, Refiloe Ntsekhe, Solly Msimanga, Khume Ramulifho and Lebogang More.

In the Western Cape, where the party is set to win the province, the party mustered just five black African candidates in the top 27 of its candidates list for the provincial legislature.

At the time, Western Cape DA leader Ivan Meyer admitted that the five candidates had only made it after senior party officials stepped in and ordered the promotion of black candidates to ensure greater diversity.

On Wednesday night, ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile appeared to hit a nerve when he said black DA members were “not good enough to go to Parliament”.

“They are of, course, good enough to come and shout here and run around, but when it goes to Parliament they (the DA) don’t choose them. That is what the reality is,” he said.

A flustered Maimane hit back, saying the ANC allowed corrupt officials into senior positions in government.

“I’m amazed at this particular line in fact, in a world where even when you get found guilty in the ANC of corruption you get sent to Parliament,” he said.

“I want to speak just what’s important about Chapter Nine institutions and Nkandla and corruption, which is the key issue, because when you compile lists, surely you must monitor whether people were corrupt and if they are you must take them out.

“Unfortunately, at the top of the ANC’s list is President Zuma who the Public Protector says tacitly agreed to the upgrades in Nkandla. So this idea of bean-counting for us to prove diversity… is not the way to build the society we want to build, it is in fact, fundamentally racist.”

Maimane countered that the DA’s list was “diverse” not only on the basis of race, but also on gender, “on the basis of skin” and generational.

“There are young people. There are old people. We haven’t said we would reward cadres for long service, we’ve said we want to best to serve the people of Gauteng,” he said.

It was also important to evaluate whether society was undergoing transformation by asking whether the economy was growing and whether this growth was inclusive or not.

Viewers of the debate appeared to have a mixed response as to who had the upper-hand but political commentator Eusebius McKaiser said Maimane had fudged the race question put to him.

“Missed opportunity. Disappointing,” McKaiser tweeted.

He recently published a book titled “Could I Vote DA?”

Meanwhile, Mashatile has hit back at speculation that the ANC’s support could be pushed below 50 percent in Gauteng, saying the latest surveys indicated the party’s support was over 60 percent.

He said supporters did raise questions over the debacle around security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home and e-tolls but the ANC didn’t run away from these.

“The issue of Nkandla will be attended to by the new Parliament… so it is under control. Yes we must continue to strengthen accountability but remember it is the ANC that introduced Chapter Nine institutions,” he said.

“Our people know that, and as we campaign, we go door-to-door we say we will continue to strengthen accountability. (We say) we will deal with these issues.”

But Maimane hit back.

“The suggestion that the ANC is over 60 percent is to me quite ludicrous because even in their own internal polls, their tracking polls, the City Press said they were 45 percent,” he said.

“So this race in Gauteng is strong, we’re growing. We’re diversifying everywhere.”

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