DA leader Mmusi Maimane is facing a bid to oust him, which analysts warn could affect the party’s prospects in the 2021 local elections. Picture: Jerome Delay/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Internal conflict engulfing the DA's top leadership will harm the opposition's electoral prospects ahead of the 2021 local elections.

This is according to political analysts who said the internal push to oust party leader Mmusi Maimane would alienate more black voters who supported or considered backing it. This comes as the fight for the control of the DA is brewing with Maimane's detractors pressuring him out of his top post.

According to a Sunday Times report, former DA leader Tony Leon was among a delegation which included party funders who approached Maimane to ask him to resign.

Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana of the University of Johannesburg said should Maimane be successfully removed and replaced with someone else, this would be tantamount to making the party white again.

“Part of the problem for the DA is that even though (former leader) Helen Zille changed the face of the party when she came in with several individuals, the DA’s policy content lagged. They were very averse to issues of racial redress and when Mmusi came, he made race part of the mainstay of his leadership,” he said.

Ndletyana maintained that many within the party were in denial about the severity of race on black people.

“The fact that the DA was no longer as protective of whites the same way Leon’s DA was made them uncomfortable with Mmusi. That is why in the 2019 election they went for the outrightly protective and defensive party like the FF+.”

Maimane, however, has been strongly defended by provincial leaders of the party, including Gauteng leader John Moodey, who accused deputy federal council chairperson Mike Waters and MP Ghaleb Cachalia of being part of a group conspiring against Maimane.

But on Sunday, Cachalia slammed Moodey’s accusations as baseless. “His accusations are either a figment of his imagination or part of an agenda, and I suspect the latter. I have never attacked Maimane. We agree and disagree and that is what we do as politicians but I have never done what Moodey is accusing me of,” Cachalia said.

Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said the idea that Maimane was going to bring black voters to the party was unrealistic.

Maluleke said Maimane had failed to make his mark or place his stamp on the kind of DA that he wanted.

“There is still a lot of Helen Zille (in the party) and maybe that is why she wants to return as the chair of the federal council," Maluleke said.

Political Bureau