Steenhuisen not fazed by Mashaba, Maimane’s latest political manoeuvres
Johannesburg - DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has expressed confidence that the official opposition will not suffer electoral decline at the hands of former leader Mmusi Maimane and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, who dumped the party to seek their political fortunes elsewhere.
Mashaba and Maimane left the DA last year, claiming that the party did not represent the country’s future as it was opposed to redress.
Their departure has been seen as a significant blow to the DA as they had been among a cohort of black leaders who helped the party increase voter support in black communities, and their decision to go it alone could see the DA having to compete against them in the upcoming 2021 local polls, which Mashaba confirmed his party would contest.
Speaking in Tembisa during a door-to-door engagement campaign, Steenhuisen said he was not fazed by Mashaba and Maimane’s latest political manoeuvres.
“I have been in this game for over 20 years as an elected public representative. I have seen movements form and I have seen parties form and I have seen personalities think they are going to storm ahead. Politics is bigger than that. It is bigger than personalities and movements,” Steenhuisen said.
The opposition party senior member, who is also eyeing election as Maimane’s successor on a full-time basis at the party’s federal congress this year, said he would not bother about the two leaders and their potential influence within the DA’s support base.
“They have made their own choice and they are on their own path. My job is to make sure that this party is value driven, has leadership and has structures that are out engaging with communities,” he said.
We've got to transform places like Tembisa into engines of growth & job creation. 💼👨🚒— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) January 27, 2020
"We've got to build a new future, and that means giving a future particularly to young people who are locked out of opportunity and locked out of the economy." - @jsteenhuisen #RealSONAtour pic.twitter.com/Pv64U3tcen
It is heartbreaking to meet young people here in Tembisa basking in the sun due to lack of access to opportunities & jobs.— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) January 27, 2020
We need bold steps now to build a stable economy that works.
Parliament this year must be a battleground of ideas, we'll ensure that this becomes reality. pic.twitter.com/Om5rHGIafJ
Steenhuisen’s visit to Gauteng, which and included Kempton Park, was part of what he call “the real state of the nation tour” - aimed at assisting him when he replies to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament - and involved interacting with communities on burning issues for them.
“When I do the response to the President’s SONA address, which no doubt is going to paint a very rosy picture of the country, I will be able to understand and share with him and Parliament and the nation what is going on the ground, as well as some measures to be able to fix these types of things.”
Steenhuisen and the handful of DA supporters who accompanied him were blocked at the second of the three houses in which he conducted his door-to-door engagement campaign in Tembisa, and the party’s local leaders argued against him visiting hostels in the township because they were concerned about a possible hostile reception.
In the two houses in which he was welcomed, Steenhuisen was told about how rife crime was in the township.