In his 2017 New Year’s message, leader of the official opposition Mmusi Maimane asked South Africans to "continue with the project of reconciliation and building a country that is united in its diversity". To this end, he said the new year presented an opportunity to recommit to things such as "economic advancement" and "the rule of law", as well as values such as "constitutionalism and ubuntu". It was the kind of idealistic, almost innocent statement that had come to define Maimane’s time at the top, filled with well-meaning Maimaneisms and totally devoid of any hard edge. Perhaps that is the necessary spirit of New Year’s messages. One way or the other, it bore no resemblance to a far uglier reality. And, over the next 12 months, that ugliness would waste no time imposing itself on the DA leader and his party. Certainly, there wasn’t much ubuntu on display inside the DA in 2017, and it didn’t take long for his desire for reconciliation to be tested either. History will no doubt lo...

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