IN CHARGE: Mmusi Maimane says he's the leader of the DA, and that the buck stops with him. He's been nominated unopposed for party leadership position.
Tshwane - DA leader Mmusi Maimane says his job is not done at the helm of the official opposition as long as the ANC is still in power.

The DA is going to its federal congress in Tshwane next week where Maimane - who has been nominated uncontested - is seeking a second term.

Maimane said he would consider his work complete only when the governing party was removed from power, hopefully in next year's general elections.

“We want to govern South Africa with our values of constitutionalism, real pluralism and corruption-free government. We can't rest until we have a democratic change in government, and the ANC spends time in national opposition,” he said.

“That will be very healthy for our country. It will put us on track to real prosperity. I won't rest until that happens,” he said.

Maimane was elected the leader of the DA in 2015, succeeding Helen Zille, to become the first black person to lead the party.

He joined the party in 2010 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the DA, becoming a mayoral candidate the following year, then party's caucus leader in council, and later becoming its national spokesperson.

While Maimane has enjoyed considerable support in the party over the years, he has been criticised from both within and outside the DA for not being firmly in charge of the party. There is speculation by some that federal council chairperson James Selfe holds more power within the party.

This was attributed to decision-making within the party, including on how the party handled Western Cape Premier Zille's disciplinary hearing over her Twitter claims that not all the legacy of colonialism was bad and the practice of including Selfe's name along with that of Maimane in internal communication in the party.

Maimane has dismissed claims that he was a front, saying he was a democratic leader who allowed others to also influence the party's direction.

“I am the leader of the DA. I was elected democratically. The buck stops with me. That doesn't mean there are no other contributions from other excellent South Africans. It is simplistic to view the DA as a dictatorship where only one person makes every decision. That is a recipe for disaster,” Maimane said.

Having already been dislodged by the DA with the help of other opposition parties from three major metros, the ANC is set to face the toughest electoral contest in the 2019 elections since the dawn of democracy, with Gauteng being one of the provinces where the DA is setting its sights for a possible coalition government.

But the DA-led coalitions have faced several challenges as smaller parties accused the party of "playing big brother” and dictating terms over governance. This led to the removal of the United Democratic Movement's Mongameli Bobani as deputy mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay after a fallout with mayor Athol Trollip last year.

Maimane, however, expressed hope that coalitions would work better over time.

“I believe that South Africa's future is in a coalition government. No one party must dominate in government. It is crucial that opposition parties stand together to remove the ANC from government. This is an essential stage in the development of South Africa into a mature democracy,” Maimane said.

The EFF, the third biggest political party in the country in terms of electoral support, has tabled a motion of no confidence in Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Trollip - who is also the DA federal chairperson - after the DA rejected the EFF's parliamentary motion to expropriate land without compensation.

The motion to remove Trollip and the DA from power in the municipality will be heard at a special council meeting on Thursday, and has alarmed the DA, which has been holding prayer sessions and mobilising communities against the EFF’s looming motion in the Eastern Cape metro.

Maimane slammed EFF leader Julius Malema for trying to oust the DA, saying he was undermining the country's future, which he said was in a coalition government.

“His latest flip-flop is to hand the Nelson Mandela Bay metro back to the corrupt ANC. This would be a disaster for the people of the Bay and a disaster for the EFF. People who vote EFF don't do so just so that their party leaders will then work with the ANC. That is a very big mistake.

“We are not taking the EFF’s motion lying down. We have mobilised a Save-NMB-Campaign. We ask everyone to sign our petition, and members of the public must let EFF councillors and leaders know that voters and residents will not forget them handing the city back to the corrupt ANC. They will be severely punished at the polls next year for this decision,” Maimane said.

The Star