Executive mayor of the City of Joburg, Herman Mashaba. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi (ANA) Archives.

The Institute for Race Race Relations (IRR) has called Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba’s comparison of their influence in the DA’s policy affairs to that of the Guptas in the ANC as “out of hand”, stating that Mashaba was getting lost in a moment of anger.

Gabriel Crouse, of the IRR, said Mashaba’s comparison was unfair because unlike the Guptas they had not abused the fiscus by stealing money from poor people and funneling it, but that they were simply injecting ideas into the public domain. 

This follows Mashaba’s open letter, published on News24, where he denounced the Institute for Race Relations for meddling in the Democratic Alliance saying that he does not want to see the party being captured and controlled by the “conservative think tank”. 

“We lobby for liberty, property rights, we lobby against the NHI, we lobby against expropriation of land without compensation. It’s what we do, it’s no secret that we try to affect politics, just like everyone else during 2017 for the ANC’s internal factions.

“The questions South Africans must ask themselves is if anyone thinks it is wrong to try and contribute to the debate around whether Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma should lead the ANC, most people would find that participating in that debate even if it’s from outside the ANC was a reasonable thing to do,” Crouse said.

He added that Mashaba “is a good guy” who was just getting lost in a moment of anger and he hoped he would “come back to the reasonable position that the IRR is out to spread liberal ideas” and that they try to influence the debate around the DA, ANC and other political parties. 

In his letter Mashaba he questioned whether DA leaders would some day find themselves being summoned to the IRR’s offices to take instructions on cabinet appointments. 

“Will DA policy be controlled by this conservative think-tank while members remain locked out of the process?” quizzed Mashaba. 

Mashaba alleged that prior to the 2019 general elections it had been reported that a grouping of the party's members of parliament had been in discussions with the IRR regarding the formation of a break away “true liberal party”, a move that eventually did not materialise.

He said that this move was designed to “capture and remake” the DA in their image. 

“They decided to stay. They call themselves liberals, but they are not. They are, in fact, conservatives who refuse to see the idea of privilege or disadvantage located in the stark realities of contemporary South Africa,” Mashaba wrote.  

He also said that the party’s leader Mmusi Maimane was a target of the IRR’s recommendations for policy change and the “appointment of good leaders to save the party” because they wanted to replace him with one of their own and for his vision of “One South Africa for All”. 

This follows allegations that Maimane had driven a car paid for by former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste while also being alleged to have claimed that a R4 million house that he was renting was his own. 

“What follows is a series of anonymous leaks from within the party, all aimed at one thing: the complete destruction of Mmusi Maimane. One set of Sunday papers after the next, it is done ruthlessly,” Mashaba said. 

He said that it was clear that leaks were from the IRR after they released a statement expressing no confidence in Maimane while calling for the party to “appoint a leader who is white”. 

On Mashaba’s claims that the IRR was targeting Maimane in a bid to hire “one of its own”, Crouse said: “That’s also an unfair allegation. There’s one member of the IRR who wrote an article saying that he wants Alan Winde to take over, but that’s not my position for example. I don’t think Alan Winde is the best man for the job and at the IRR we have differing views on who the best person for the job is.”

He added that it was possible that Maimane was still the best person for the job because he was a “definitely a popular leader around the country”. However, he said that a debate around who is the best person for the job, should not be on the basis of race. 

“It’s destructive to the DA and it’s destructive to the country to be gunning for a black leader or to be gunning for a white leader. The leader of the DA should be a leader of character, a leader of good standing who can take the party forward in a positive direction.

“I want to have that debate, I don’t want to have a debate about white people hating black people or black people hating white people because I don’t see evidence for that and I think it's a distraction from the key issues,” said Crouse.

Political Bureau