President Cyril Ramaphosa and DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File picture: Brenton Geach/Independent Media Archives

Parliament - President Cyril Ramaphosa has backed DA leader Mmusi Maimane against members of the opposition party who went after him over for his Freedom Day comments regarding white privilege.

This followed weekend reports that some senior white DA MPs had lashed out at Maimane in a heated party caucus meeting after his speech.

Ramaphosa, who was answering questions in Parliament, said yesterday he fully backed Maimane on his remarks.

He said South Africa wanted to pull many people out of poverty. This would include a growth trajectory, and he supported Maimane because this was necessary.

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The president said he would be the first one to defend Maimane against his fellow DA members who were opposed to his views on white privilege against black poverty.

“We were alarmed to see the headlines. The majority of DA members are turning against you because you are telling the truth,” said Ramaphosa.

He said Maimane should join efforts to heal the wounds of the past.

However, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen was incensed by Ramaphosa and told him to keep away from newspapers. “You shouldn’t believe what you read in the Sunday newspapers,” Steenhuisen roared.

But Ramaphosa ignored him and said the ANC endorsed Maimane’s views.

Steenhuisen was one of the DA leaders in Parliament who has been named as having attacked Maimane.

The others were DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters and top official Natasha Mazzone.

The DA has been caught up in the diversity debate. Recently, a DA MPL in Gauteng, Khume Ramulifho, challenged the party’s decision to appoint Mazzone to the federal council.

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Mazzone was announced as the second deputy chairperson of the council.

However, the DA dismissed Ramulifho’s claim that Mazzone had been appointed to the position after the conference last month.

It said Mazzone was elected at the conference, and Ramulifho’s confusion was because the result was not announced at the conference.

Ramaphosa also told Parliament he would review the State Security Agency (SSA), and part of the work would be to conduct investigations.

These would include the parallel structure, called the Principal Agent Network, set up by former SSA director-general Arthur Fraser.

Fraser was removed from the agency a few weeks ago and relocated to the Department of Correctional Services.

This followed a complaint and court action by Inspector General of Intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe that he was interfering with his duties, and had withdrawn Fraser’s security clearance after he had investigated him.

The complaint was lodged last year by the official opposition after it accused Fraser of running a parallel intelligence structure that was targeting the political rivals of former president Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa said the review panel would comprise people from the intelligence community and security cluster. He refused to answer more questions on Fraser’s redeployment, saying the matter was sub judice.

Political Bureau