WHY? YOU MAY ASK.
Mmusi Maimane, it is alleged, won the right to lead the Democratic Alliance as its candidate for Premier of South Africa’s economic hub, the hotly contested Gauteng Province, on the basis of his skin colour.
These allegations, needless to say, have come from the African National Congress who are obsessed with race in their frantic bid to stay in power, country-wide, for another five years.
That most Democratic Alliance (DA) members with voting powers in that province should reflect the party’s demographic make-up, where most people will vote along colour lines come 7 May, 2014, is no longer worth debating.
Do not be fooled into believing, or wishing to believe, that Maimane’s election was based on race. That most of his supporters within the DA are black is beside the point, but should also go a long way in reflecting how far the allegedly racist, but strictly speaking liberal party has come.
Mmusi Maimani is the Democratic Alliance’s candidate for premier of Gauteng on merit and by popular vote, much like US President Barack Obama was elected by the Democratic Party nearly seven years ago.
That he has mimicked Obama’s oratorical skills and has a similar confident swagger when he walks matters not to this voter. Mmusi Maimane oozes confidence whenever he talks, or walks. Curiously, too, whenever I see images of Mmusi Maimane walking laboriously through the impoverished streets of Alexandria and other similarly afflicted areas, I am reminded of the great man himself. Nelson Mandela.
He speaks swiftly and raises his voice to the correct level so that this potential voter may hear him clearly and concisely. And when he does so, it is always with respect towards those who choose to gather around him and hear what he has to say. But his voice resonates far enough so that the whole country may have a democratic opportunity to hear him.
I recently nick-named Maimane (fondly, mind you) Mmusi Obama. And I was not the only South African to have done so. Unlike Jacob Zuma, Maimane has an acute sense of humour and will not take offence, particularly since he is preoccupied with far more important events in this country’s history.
Such as laying criminal charges of corruption against Jacob Zuma at the local police station near his sprawling estate known world-wide as Nkandla. Paid for in full by the South African tax payer against his, or her express wishes.
Via a slick SMS campaign which went viral all over the world, Maimani and the DA labelled Jacob Zuma a thief, something which most South Africans are slowly coming to believe is true in light of their own lack of housing and security.
After the South Gauteng High Court (that same court which found Julius Malema guilty of hate speech utterances) dismissed the African National Congress’s complaint against the DA with costs, Maimani also showed his true South African colours, bounding victoriously down the court’s steps, flicking his fingers rhythmically and accusingly.
Not only is Mmusi Maimani slick, confident and handsome, a snappy, powerful dresser, he is also a very brave man. He, like a number of politicians in opposition to the ANC in Gauteng, has received death threats.
But has he backed down from his cool campaign to become Gauteng’s next Premier? No. The Maimane train rolls on.
I have gushed for far too long on Maimane’s public persona, an effective asset when campaigning for thousands of votes. We should also be pragmatic and exercise some wisdom when making our choice in the voting booth. Does Mmusi Maimane have the skills and talent to lead the province?
Given what he is up against, and given his true credentials, I think so. Perhaps his foremost opponent in the Gauteng race to the Premier’s office (to replace the ANC’s ineffective, obtuse and rude incumbent, Nomvula Mokonyane), Advocate Dali Mpofu is the Economic Freedom Fighter’s Premier candidate. He is best known today as the selfish advocate who refuses to represent pro bono the slain Marikana miners and their surviving families at the Commission drawn up to investigate exactly why the South African Police Services staff killed over thirty protesting miners on the dusty plains of the world’s richest deposits of platinum on that fateful day.
Most of the miners were on an illegal strike demanding higher wages from their (white and black, it must be said) mine bosses who in turn are paid handsomely in spite of staggering financial losses. Most of the miners, still on strike are now rallying behind the Association of Mineworkers’ Union of South Africa (AMCU) to demand the magical, but impractical salary of R12500 (not more than 125 US dollars) per month. In contrast to the mine bosses’s unearned salaries, this figure pales.
But it is in the Economic Freedom Fighters’ political manifesto. And these miners are likely to vote, if they vote, for the Economic Freedom Fighters who have shown a more than sympathetic interest in their plight.
Dali Mpofu is also the former executive head of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who successfully sued the broadcaster for compensation (in the millions) after being dismissed for wishing to give Julius Malema more airtime, but being told, no, he may not. Mpofu was dismissed by the same broadcaster which recently pulled the plug on the DA’s election advert which is seen to be scathingly critical of Jacob Zuma and the corrupt bungling surrounding the construction of the SA President’s Nkandla estate, and in which the man of this hour is featured heavily.
Dali Mpofu is also Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s former paramour and the subject of Madiba’s earlier divorce before he became president and the absence of Madikizela-Mandela as beneficiary in the former statesman’s will after his death in 2013.
Let us be honest, the DA apparatus, or the powers that be within, recognise fully, that unlike the monster in Malema that the ANC chose to ditch, they have a powerful star in the making. But what does Maimane have to offer that Mpofu, Malema and the EFF already have? And what is unique about what both he and the DA offer to counter the ANC’s misrule of the Gauteng Province?
We start with the obvious. Like the EFF, the controversial E-tolls, gradually morphing into the proverbial white elephant, if you excuse the political pun, is to be shunned. Confusingly, Zwelinzima Vavi, reinstated COSATU boss, while throwing his political weight behind the ANC, also opposes the inept construction of the Gauteng’s E-Tolls.
Free transport for the unemployed and elderly. Yes, you heard correctly, free transport. Now, this seemingly impractical solution which puzzlingly has not been implemented in the Western Cape where the DA currently governs, could be a potential job spinner in the blink of an eye. Imagine all the paperwork and data processing (and worthwhile expense) which would be required to make such a ticket possible.
Maimane would also like to tackle the fraudulent issuance of government grants and racially inspired tenders. But for that he would need to become President. On a provincial level, Maimane tells his provincial electorate that (former) RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) houses will be handed over to the occupant for a mere one rand (one cent to the dollar) thus making the occupier the sole owner, and in stark contrast to the current funding programme in place under Mokonyane’s watch where occupants may only see ownership after eight years of occupation.
The current system is crassly abused. Occupants invariably return to their shacks under entrepreneurial duress and illegally collect rents from new occupants. Again, it is a little beyond me why such radical and yet innovative and practical solutions to the plight of the Western Cape’s poor and marginalised were not implemented under the Democratic Alliance’s watch at both Provincial and City Council level.
Nevertheless, I am suspiciously, but cautiously optimistic that Mmusi Maimane is the main driver of these innovations.
The ANC would like to believe that Mmusi Maimane is nothing more than the DA’s black puppet alongside Lindiwe Mazibuko who more than holds her own in Parliament as the party’s elected leader of the official opposition. Such derogatory language is usually the preserve of politicians who find themselves facing defeat through no fault but their own.
As an advocate, Dali Mpofu is skilled at what he does best.
But what about Mmusi Maimane? And who is he really?
For starters, he is only thirty-four. How old was Barack Obama when he left his law practice to become a democratically elected Senator, and was Obama not the youngest man to take office in the White House since John F Kennedy? Age should not be, and is not a deterrent to successful administration, however untested.
Mmusi Maimane is a born and bred Sowetan, and before his rise to be the DA’s candidate for premier, he was their choice for mayor of the City of Johannesburg. That he did not win then is largely down to the popular support for the ANC.
Outside of politics, Mmusi Maimane is a business consultant and trainer with firms both in and outside of South Africa. Unlike many ANC cadres (and Dali Mpofu), Maimane is bereft of any irregularities in regard to the corrupt manipulation of tenders and the awarding of managerial posts to unsuitably qualified persons.
And he is a lecturer to boot. So, he has had enough time in front of the lectern. He runs any number of non-Governmental Organisations particularly focussed on HIV/AIDS, youth and rural development.
He has two (not one) Masters degrees. One in Theology. And one in Public Administration.
He clearly has goals. And he clearly has the abilities, unashamed, unfettered and fearless.
Going forward, if South Africa has a good story to tell, he may yet become your future State President. I leave you with the advertisement that says it all, the one the SABC decided that you may not see (because it is critical of Jacob Zuma and his ANC).
Now, would you vote for this man?