Maimane is black and proud but says the DA is not black or white

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane pulled no punches, hitting back at critics of his party. (Paul Botes/M&G)

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane pulled no punches, hitting back at critics of his party. (Paul Botes/M&G)

In a rousing speech in Tshwane, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane tackled allegations of racism and apartheid-style thinking that has dogged the reputation of the country’s largest opposition party.

Addressing the 2 000 delegates assembled at the Tshwane Events Centre, Maimane insisted the party was a home for all South Africans, regardless of race.

Calling on the liberal values of the DA, Maimane said that though he was proud to identify as black, he would not allow his race to determine his path in life.

“As liberals in Africa, we are not colour-blind. We understand that the racial domination and dispossession of apartheid and colonialism destroyed people’s freedom. We want to fix this injustice without reducing every person to their race,” said Maimane.

He lambasted critics who referred to the DA as “the party of apartheid” or a “white party”, insisting the opposition was a party united in “glorious diversity”.

“They even say that I am a puppet of white people and, if we win an election, I will be replaced by a white person. The truth is that I will never be black enough for them. Because they don’t want black people to think for themselves,

“They want black people to remain trapped in the politics of race because this is what keeps the ANC in power,” said Maimane.

The DA leader pointed to the example of Helen Suzman to work towards uplifting black South Africans.

He also mocked the idea of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s much touted “new dawn” pointing out that the cabinet was still filled with corrupt ministers and a deputy president with a murky past.

“We don’t need the empty promise of a new dawn. We need total change. We need to dismantle the corrupt system that continues to oppress poor people in this country,” he said.

Maimane identified poverty as the greatest challenge facing the country, saying that a new way needed to be charted to bring more South Africans into the formal economy.

Beauregard Tromp

Beauregard Tromp

Beauregard Tromp is a multi-award winning journalist and Nieman Fellow at Harvard who has worked at major publications throughout South Africa. Beauregard spent six years as an Africa correspondent, narrating stories from nearly 40 countries. He is the author of Hani: A Life Too Short and most recently won the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award and Sikuvile Award for his work on xenophobia. He is the deputy editor of the M&G. Read more from Beauregard Tromp

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