POLITICS
09/04/2018 05:52 SAST | Updated 09/04/2018 09:58 SAST

Q&A With Mmusi Maimane: 'The ANC Is Going To Tear Itself Apart'

DA leader Mmusi Maimane on race, land and coalitions.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane votes during the policy decision session at the party's federal congress in Pretoria on April 8 2018.
Gulshan Khan/ AFP via Getty Images
DA leader Mmusi Maimane votes during the policy decision session at the party's federal congress in Pretoria on April 8 2018.

Q: Why entrench a clause about the support or non-support of quotas in the DA constitution?

A: It is like saying 'we don't support apartheid'. Apartheid was a form of quotas, it said 'you are white, therefore you are a group, you must oppress the other group'. Also, where there were jobs there was job reservation, there was the Group Areas Act, which dictated where you can live. If you go down the quota route... firstly, it's impractical to do. It takes away the rights of the individual to self-identify. I am a proud black South African, but that's not the only thing I am about, I also think a whole lot different from other people who say they, too, are black. Quotas also speak to racial representivity... if you're a rugby team, you can't say 'let's look at how many women and how many black people are there' and then replicate them in the team... it's just impractical. Rather try and ensure that your plan to attract people is much better.

Q: The party's explicit support for diversity and implicit rejection of quotes is significant. Is it a change from before?

A: We are seeing a rise of racial nationalism, a rise in racism. So when you go to Parliament and you debate land there are, according to some, black parties and white parties. It is the worst place we can ever be. I fought for this clause and I'm glad congress adopted this. My dream is that there should never, ever be a domination of one race over another. I have two kids who come from a mixed race background. I would hate for them to have to one day belong to a party for their race. I want them to know that they are home in the DA, regardless of who they are. For example, among the leadership, we have leaders elected who are gay. That's important. Growing up in the townships, to be gay was the ultimate wrong. Now, I don't need to be gay to fight for the rights of gay people, I'm just saying diversity must apply to the whole spectrum. I think it's a legacy I want to hand over to the next generation. That's why diversity must be in the constitution as a value.

Q: Where is the race war in the DA located?

A: I don't know, actually. I was looking for it for the whole duration of the congress. That some have said we have this race against that race is the biggest load of rubbish. I think its poor analysis [of the DA]. I had a discussion with Gavin Davis [about his reservations on the diversity clause], who I've worked together with, and we disagreed on certain things. But I didn't challenge him because he was white, I did so because he said something I didn't necessarily agree with. That's the beauty of democracy. You contest and then come out with better ideas than you originally had. I had differences with Makashule Gana [about the same clause], but we came together and worked out something that was better than the original.

Q: Is the granting of title deeds to landless the answer to the question of ownership and land?

A: No, it's not the only answer. Title deeds are important as far as urban ownership and the protection of property rights go. The ANC says it will give people houses and then they wait for years, the DA says we'll give you a title deed. That's one aspect of urban land reform. But look, when it comes to titles in rural areas, we don't know who owns what. If we only talk about communal land ownership, you end up with replacing the minister of land affairs with the minister of traditional leadership. We have to get to a point where we give people titles. But as far as agricultural land goes, we've always advanced the idea of share equity schemes. In simple terms: if you work the land, you must have equity in it.

Q: Will the DA consider coalitions with the ANC in future?

A: As I said when I extended a hand of friendship to all political parties: we need to agree on some guiding principles. We must agree on the Constitution, a market-based economy... that's why we couldn't go into a formal coalition with the EFF, because they believe the state must be at the centre of power. I think it's wrong. I think the state must be the last formation at the centre. I think the [internal] coalition can't work because there are those that say the Constitution is the problem and those that say it is not the problem. There are those that are for and those that are against the market. The future of South Africa, maybe not in 2019 but certainly later, where we agree... let the ANC split up and let those who agree with the DA on the markets and non-racialism work together. There will be some who will work with the EFF. I think it will be better.

Q: Will the ANC still exist in its current shape and form in five years' time?

A: It can't, it's not sustainable... they are going to tear each other apart, especially on this land issue. Even though their conference adopted a motion on it, the truth of the matter is that many in the ANC don't agree on it.

Q: President Cyril Ramaphosa has been in office for almost 60 days. How has he fared?

A: A great start, but I think he is starting to realise that there actually is no 'new dawn' for the ANC. The reality is that he might have won the leadership, but Jacob Zuma still has the party - and you could see it in Cabinet, in policy proposals. Quite frankly, I can't think of any reforms he's implemented other than those that were forced on him by law. We forced him to agree not to pay for Zuma's legal fees, we had to force him to change the Eskom board because if he hadn't, Eskom would not have been allowed to trade in bonds. We can look at nice sentiment after 60 days, but I think he has missed an opportunity to radically reset things. People are desperate for change now.

DA IN 2019 | VOTE IN OUR POLL BELOW: