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Johannesburg - Senior leaders in the DA are questioning the funding of the Mmusi Maimane’s Gauteng premiership campaign, saying it is being given more money at the expense of the Northern Cape’s campaign for candidate Andrew Louw.
The murmurs grew louder and reached a climax at last week’s federal council meeting in Cape Town, well-placed sources told The Sunday Independent.
The rumours included that R90 million had been pumped into Maimane’s campaign – a figure rejected outright by Maimane and Gauteng leaders, who say it is inflated.
A senior leader, speaking anonymously for fear of retribution, said the ambitious Gauteng premiership campaign was part of a larger plan by the national leadership for Maimane to replace party leader Helen Zille next year, when she is expected to step down.
“Helen is pumping so much money behind Mmusi so she can say this is the person the people want, like she did with Lindiwe (Mazibuko),” the senior leader said, referring to Mazibuko’s contest for the position of parliamentary leader against incumbent Athol Trollip.
This week a senior provincial leader said Northern Cape DA leaders felt like “stepchildren” because, despite being identified as a strategic province, it had struggled to obtain the necessary funding for posters or billboards.
“They launched, but otherwise the campaign has stagnated,” a senior Gauteng leader said.
But Louw rejected the comments outright, saying his campaign had been “well financed”.
“We’ve had over 150 posters and pamphlets. It’s absolute nonsense. It goes without saying that Gauteng has more voters, because its population is bigger,” he said.
“I’m 100 percent happy, because my campaign is on track. I’ve never experienced any problems. People are very mischievous. The finances are okay, and I am quite happy.”
But Gauteng leaders are concerned that Maimane’s profile is usurping theirs.
Said one leader: “Is he the chosen one to take Zille’s place in 2015? Party money is being used to make him federal deputy chair.
“He was given 10 minutes to introduce Zille (at the party’s congress in 2012). He spent 10 minutes speaking about himself like Obama, and two minutes introducing Zille to her own party. This is definitely the position of a person who’s an emperor with no clothes. We won’t allow any leader to be parachuted down our throats.”
Maimane now faces the challenge of again being asked to show his hand, with senior leaders wanting him to publicly announce whether he will go to Parliament or stay in Gauteng, likely to be at the next DA federal council scheduled for next month.
Maimane said: “My fundamental commitment is to be the premier of Gauteng. This would be a great result for the DA, the party I serve on a continual basis. “The election in Gauteng is a growth area for the DA. It is where our polls indicate that the ANC would go below 50 percent, and thus the investment into the campaign.
“The premiership campaign is integrated into the Gauteng structures, and thus accounts to the same teams and process.
“The success of this campaign is what is critical for me, and all other speculations are pale, baseless and have not been my focus. Election 2014 in Gauteng is my focus.”
DA chief executive Jonathan Moakes said he could not confirm the exact amounts given to the Gauteng and Northern Cape campaigns at this stage, but that the party sought to maximise its fundraising revenue right up until election day.
He said the party hoped to make big electoral gains in all nine provinces, and that both Gauteng and the Northern Cape had “great potential for electoral growth”.
The Maimane and Gauteng campaigns were completely integrated. Rumours of the Northern Cape campaign being under-funded were also untrue.”