Ricochet News

DA leadership battle gets ugly

By Charl Bosch - May 6, 2015
DA leadership battle gets ugly

Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Chairperson, Wilmot James, has accused rival party leader hopeful, Mmusi Maimane, of casting negativity on their respective campaign battles following the publishing of a statement by the party’s Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, and the former’s manager, Geordin Hill-Lewis.

In a post on the website, Politicsweb, Hill-Lewis stated that remarks made by James in an interview with The Star, where he reportedly claimed that Maimane’s vision for the DA was similar to that of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), was uncalled for and couldn’t be left unchallenged.

“In 2010, one year into his first term as a DA MP, James told an interviewer that he would vote for the ANC if Trevor Manuel were its President. Indeed, James worked closely with the ANC throughout the 1990s and would later describe himself in an interview as an ANC sympathiser during those years,” Hill-Lewis wrote.

“He was never a member of the Democratic Party, or any of its predecessor parties, and only joined the DA in August 2008 – a few months before he became a Member of Parliament. Perhaps this is why James’ claim to be a “liberal stalwart” ring rather hollow”.

Referring to his campaign, Hill-Lewis said that James was one of the people who supported the party’s failed Employment Equity Amendment Bill in 2013 and that his flip-flopping on “race-based redress has been nothing short of spectacular”.

“Something changed in late 2013 at around the same time that James was pushing for the DA to support the Employment Equity Amendment Bill in Parliament. On 15 November 2013, James authored a memorandum on redress in which he argued that “disadvantage still significantly overlaps with race,” said Hill-Lewis.

“This led him to conclude: “we support a balanced, qualitative process to promote diversity which may include racial preference. In other words, James went from railing against racial classification to embracing it in a few short months. That’s quite an about-turn”.

Hill-Lewis also took a swipe at James accusing the party of flirting with the National Development Plan (NDP) as “he led charge in its endorsement” before stating that the only person “guilty of flirting with the NDP is James himself”.

In a rebuttal of the allegations, James said that Maimane had used Hill-Lewis as a proxy to boost his campaign, and that the Parliamentary leader should speak for himself.

“I strongly believe that the DA needs a new direction and must be an alternative to the ANC, focusing on the DA's Growth and Jobs Plan, rather than an alternate ANC, flirting with the ANC's National Development Plan.

“If Mmusi Maimane has something to say about this issue, then he should have the courage to say it himself, rather than hiding behind a proxy,” James wrote on the same site, adding that the matter will not deter his stance heading towards the party’s elective conference in Port Elizabeth this weekend.


IMAGE sourced from flickr.com