‘People scream racism to cover up corruption’— Maimane

'You see, for some, when they are caught out undermining clean governance for the people, and zero tolerance for corruption, they move towards racial victimhood,' Mmusi Maimane said. (David Harrison/M&G)

'You see, for some, when they are caught out undermining clean governance for the people, and zero tolerance for corruption, they move towards racial victimhood,' Mmusi Maimane said. (David Harrison/M&G)

Cries of “racial victimhood” aim to divert attention from corruption, says Mmusi Maimane, who claims the City of Cape Town almost suffered its own state capture.

The federal leader of the Democratic Alliance delivered the keynote address at the memorial service of party councillor in the City of Johannesburg Jerry Mabe.

While Maimane described Mabe as “a man of character” who was selfless and “put the residents he served ahead of his own interests,” he had harsher words for some of the party’s members.

During the memorial service held on Tuesday evening in Dobsonville, Soweto, Maimane said: “If you want to serve the people of South Africa, in any form, you must be above reproach.”

He added that the party’s values of non-racialism, clean governance, and zero tolerance for corruption “are never up for compromise. They stand, no matter who you are.”

But, according to Maimane, members within the DA have broken this tradition.
He explained that some DA members treat public service as a “personal service”.

“You see, for some, when they are caught out undermining clean governance for the people, and zero tolerance for corruption, they move towards racial victimhood,” Maimane continued.

Last week, the Cape Town city council adopted an independent investigation by law firm Bowmans which alleged that Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille had prevented then city manager Achmat Ebrahim from reporting the irregular expenditure of R43-million to the city council.

However, there were two reports — one that deals with allegations against De Lille and another with allegations against city council members. Both reported different findings against De Lille with the report focused solely on the mayor finding her not guilty of misconduct.

READ MORE: De Lille to take Bowman report to court

The report into the council recommends that De Lille be sanctioned, in line with the Municipal Systems Act.

Last Thursday, when the report was adopted, five Cape Town city councillors resigned in an unprecedented show of support for De Lille.  However, following their resignation, Maimane alleged that the five had left as a result of being implicated in the Bowmans report.

READ MORE: Maimane has not apologised ‘for lying about us’ — ex City of Cape Town chief whip

Maimane has subsequently retracted his statement and offered a mealy-mouthed apology to the five councillors.

The five councillors — Shaun August, Siya Mamkeli, Suzette Little, Greg Bernardo and Thulani Stemele — have said that Maimane has not apologised for his “false and defamatory” statements. The five councillors are seeking legal action against him for defamation. However, in his speech on Tuesday, Maimane took aim at the city council by discussing their accountability, or lack thereof.

“When we saw the beginning stages of state capture in the City of Cape Town, we demanded accountability. Covering up maladministration, interfering in government contracts and tenders, blocking council from doing its work,” the DA leader said on Tuesday in Dobsonville, Soweto.

“We caught state capture in Cape Town before it was too late. And now, when the truth emerges, all of a sudden its racial victimhood. Its an old trick this one.”

Maimane cited the Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement and the ANC as examples of parties that used racial victimhood as an excuse when they were caught out in wrongdoing.

“It’s no different there in Cape Town. Its embarrassingly obvious that only now – when it’s the end of the road for these defenders and hiders of maladministration and corruption – they play this card.”

“Racial victimhood has no place in our country, and certainly no place in our party.” Maimane continued, ”The DA is better off without those who use racial victimhood to divert attention away from – and cover up – corruption.”

“Those who want to divide us along racial lines belong back in apartheid. We reject this. The DA I lead will never compromise on our values, as we seek to build a united, non-racial and prosperous South Africa.”

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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