South Africa

DA could make Maimane Western Cape premier ‘out of desperation’

Desperate times call for desperate measures – that’s how political experts describe the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) move to consider deploying the party’s federal leader, Mmusi Maimane, as Western Cape premier.

The party’s fear of losing the Western Cape is why it may take this route. The DA wants to use Maimane’s leadership clout to stop a possible takeover of the Western Cape by the ANC in 2019.

Maimane’s spokesperson, Portia Adams, said this was “not a done deal”, but Maimane was being proposed as one the options being discussed by the party.

“Yes, the leader is discussing this matter. He is having extensive discussions with various structures, including the selection panel and the federal executive. Nothing is confirmed yet,” Adams said.

She said the name of the Western Cape premiership candidate would be announced tomorrow. There were still a number of Western Cape-based candidates being considered.

“There is no premier candidate as yet. There is a rigorous process to select that candidate,” Adams said.

But political analysts said there was a high possibility Maimane would be the candidate as a strategic move to counter the ANC in the province.

Political analyst Susan Booysen said the DA was calculating its fortunes after polls indicated that the ANC might be able to hold on to Gauteng in 2019 due to the weak opposition in the province.

“The DA in the Western Cape still has the best chance of still being in government. That the polls show the ANC was doing well in the Western Cape currently is a source of worry for the DA, so they feel they might need their national leader to lead their campaign there,” Booysen said.

Another analyst, Daniel Silke, said a redeployment of Maimane was a desperate measure by the party to stay in power. It was also an admission that Maimane could not muster enough strength to drop the ANC support down to below 50% votes in 2019.

Booysen said that, to the DA, the Western Cape was more important than national government, where they felt they had no chance of winning, for the time being. They would rather fight to keep the power they had than fight for the power they couldn’t win.

If Maimane were to stand as Western Cape premier, the party would scurry around for someone strong enough to challenge Ramaphosa.

It would have to field leaders such as federal council chair James Selfe or party chief whip John Steenhuisen.

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