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Maimane slams DA sex ring claim

030214. Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Rosebank. From left Democratic Alliance National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, DA leader Helen Zille, Dr Wilmot James and Lindiwe Mazibuko during the news conferences following Sunday’s announcement that the alliance between Mamphela Ramphele and the DA had fallen through. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

030214. Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Rosebank. From left Democratic Alliance National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, DA leader Helen Zille, Dr Wilmot James and Lindiwe Mazibuko during the news conferences following Sunday’s announcement that the alliance between Mamphela Ramphele and the DA had fallen through. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published May 4, 2015

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Johannesburg - Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has lashed out at an anonymous e-mail campaign accusing him of being part of a party sex ring.

The e-mail, which The Star has seen, was sent out on Saturday and circulated to party members.

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Maimane, who is campaigning to become the party’s national leader, rubbished it as a bid to thwart the political ambitions of him and several colleagues, including his running mate, Athol Trollip.

Maimane is listed among five leaders that an anonymous e-mail writer has identified as “the Mmusi-Athol-John-Gavin-Paul team. Married men who use their power to manipulate the ascension of women in the party”.

In the e-mail, the author names five senior DA leaders she claims are either notorious for physically abusing female staffers, or having sexual relations with them in return for party positions.

The e-mail claims the reason few women were contesting the DA’s leadership positions was because “there are men in the DA who have made it a special pastime to choose women in the party to be their playthings”.

A livid Maimane said in an interview on Sunday: “They (allegations) are malicious, evil and intent on damaging me… It’s not coincidental that it comes now,” he said in reference to the anonymous e-mail, which purportedly details allegations of sexual impropriety and abuse of power against the DA’s top structure.

The allegations came just a week before the DA’s crucial elective conference in Port Elizabeth, where Maimane will slug it out for the party’s leadership position against federal chairman Wilmot James.

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The e-mail writer mentions names and incidents involving people in leadership positions.

The majority of the affairs ended badly for most of the women, according to the correspondence.

Trollip, who is contesting the federal chairman’s position in the same slate as Maimane, is characterised as “the Bull of Bedford” in the e-mail and the allegation is made that he has a “swinging circle which he has filled with females from the EC (Eastern Cape) who want a career in politics”. Again, the author of the e-mail cites the names of the women she is referring to.

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Maimane said: “I have been in contact with my staff members and none of them has made any complaints,” he said, adding that the allegations were an insult to women.

The DA parliamentary leader said he was not fazed by the allegations. “We have a campaign and we are focused on that. We have no time for this nonsense,” he said, adding that the DA was investigating the allegations, including the author of the anonymous e-mail.

James could not be reached for comment on Sunday, while Trollip refused to comment.

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“I have no comment. I don’t comment on nameless, faceless sources,” he said angrily.

Earlier on Saturday, Maimane’s campaign manager, Geordin Hill-Lewis, issued a statement collectively dismissing the allegations on behalf of him (Maimane), James and Trollip.

“This is negative, false and destructive and it does nothing but harm the interests of the party that we are both running to lead and serve… The e-mail contains a series of slurs and libellous claims about various DA leaders and their private lives,” Hill-Lewis said.

The author, who claims to have been one of the alleged victims, accuses the party of not taking any form of sexual harassment or impropriety seriously because of a system that protects men who use their power “to get away with the worst misogyny against women”.

She then names one female staffer who was allegedly sacked after having an open affair with one of the men.

Hill-Lewis urged party delegates to reject the e-mail as there was no evidence to back up any of the claims made in it.

“We reject it entirely, and suggest that congress delegates do the same,” Hill-Lewis said.

Political analyst Professor Steven Friedman said while the e-mail was part of the political smear campaigns that were becoming common in South Africa, nothing should be read into it.

“In the British Liberal Democrats, there was a whole lot of these scandals about senior members sexually harassing women. Whether this is about somebody trying to imitate that, or if it’s somebody with a grievance and trying to influence the outcome (of the conference) remains to be seen,” Friedman said.

“Part of being a democracy is that people should not be taken seriously unless they produce evidence.

“From a public point of view, smear campaigns don’t get anywhere unless they are backed by evidence,” Friedman said.

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The Star

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