Addressing the Democratic Alliance’s 2018 Congress on Saturday, Mmusi Maimane indicated the party’s campaign for next year’s general election would be focussed on winning the Gauteng and Northern Cape provinces.
The congress, hosted at the Tshwane Events Centre is attended by 2 000 delegates.
The tone of Maimane’s speech was significantly more assertive than his public utterances in recent months. Shortly after being nominated for the party leadership unopposed, Maimane appeared on stage, in a cloud of confetti and music, very much the star of the show.
Maimane’s speech sets the tone for its election campaign, shrugging off the tedium that has beset the party since the ANC’s elective conference last December. The DA was caught flat footed as a wave of renewed enthusiasm in the ANC government under Cyril Ramaphosa swept through the country. While the ANC appeared buoyant, the DA appeared trapped in its own contradictions. A series of internal party battles have eroded the efficacy of the party’s messaging as the political home of all South Africans, while their increasingly frayed relationship with the Economic Freedom Fighters, has placed their rule in Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg under threat.
The official opposition had earlier this week announced a raft of resolutions on issues including land reform, the economy, improved healthcare and education, safety and security and justice.
In a format very much in keeping with party conventions in the US, Maimane was introduced to delegates by his wife Natalie.
“I love this province, not only as a proud Sowetan. . . but it’s also here that I met my wife,”
“We must put a DA-led government here in Gauteng.”
Maimane reminded delegates of the disbelief that followed the DA’s victory in Midvaal, followed later by DA-led metros in Tshwane and Johannesburg.
He warned that the DA must remain humble, despite its growth.
The DA leader warned that next year’s national elections were going to be tough with much mudslinging against the party expected.
Maimane quoted Michelle Obama, saying: “When they go low, we go high!”