DA leader Mmusi Maimane and DA national chair Athol Trollip at the Electoral Commission of SA results operations centre in Pretoria on May 9 2019 Picture: AFP/PHILL MAGAKOE
DA leader Mmusi Maimane and DA national chair Athol Trollip at the Electoral Commission of SA results operations centre in Pretoria on May 9 2019 Picture: AFP/PHILL MAGAKOE

Mmusi Maimane has been assured that he has the support of the DA leadership following a bruising poll in which the official opposition party is expected to have decreased support.

The DA, with 85% of the national voting districts counted, seems set to lose support from the 22.3% it won in the 2014 elections nationally, after it bled votes to, most prominently, the Freedom Front-Plus (FF+).

The party has seemingly lost support in its stronghold, the Western Cape, falling from the 59.4% of the vote in the province in 2014 to just more than 55%, with 98.3% of the voting district counted.

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It has failed to push the ANC below 50% of the support in the Northern Cape, while Gauteng, the other strategic province in which it has vowed to push the ANC below 50%, is still anyone’s game with 66% of the voting districts counted.

During a media conference on Friday morning,  DA national chair Athol Trollip was emphatic that Maimane would be the leader until the party’s next federal congress, which takes place in 2021. 

“This was probably the most important and heavily contested election since 1994. Maimane led a team. We all take responsibility. But there should be no irresponsibility about the leadership. Maimane is the leader of the DA. He will be the leader of the DA until the next congress,” Trollip said.

He said Maimane led a “magnificent campaign” against a really difficult backdrop and that “he has my support and he has the support of the party going forward into the next election, which will be in 2021”. The next local government elections are set to take place in that year.

It does not, however, mean that knives will not be out for Maimane, who was tasked with growing the party significantly, as his predecessors had done.

The party’s federal executive will dissect the outcome of election on Monday, while a federal council meeting will take place in June. 

Maimane said the DA will work hard to grow the party from these results, and that the DA remains a party for all South Africans. He said this election saw a re-alignment in politics, with the rise of nationalism. Both the FF+ and the EFF grew its support in the election significantly.  

“While this election has shown that we are re-aligning politics, it shows that we have a long-term journey. It may not have happened this time, but trust, me come 2021, 2024, we will demonstrate to the people in this country that we can hold all South Africans together,” Maimane said.

He added that it was a “tough” election, and that one of the factors contributing to this was that the ANC had elected a new president in Cyril Ramaphosa. He said this could not be dismissed, as well as the the global trends towards populism.

He conceded that Ramaphosa had run a strong campaign.

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