Gavin Davis, left, and Mmusi Maimane. Picture: RANDBURGSUN.CO.ZA
Gavin Davis, left, and Mmusi Maimane. Picture: RANDBURGSUN.CO.ZA

Senior DA MP Gavin Davis has dismissed suggestions that his decision to relinquish his seat in parliament is an indication of growing unhappiness with the direction the DA is taking under Mmusi Maimane’s leadership.

Davis announced his resignation as a representative of the party in parliament on Thursday to take up a position in the private sector. He will be the new CEO of Resolve Communications, a Cape Town-based PR firm headed by former DA leader Tony Leon.

There has been growing speculation in recent months that some party members are planning to form a breakaway "true liberal party", amid tensions over race, transformation and other key policy matters.

Two DA MPs, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was growing unhappiness with Maimane’s leadership, particularly the handling of the Patricia De Lille matter — although it has since been resolved — and key policy matters such as its stance on black economic empowerment.

They said there were also concerns the party may struggle to challenge a weakened ANC.

"Not at all," Davis said, responding to questions whether his decision to step down was an indication of the unhappiness with Maimane’s leadership. "I have been offered an exciting career opportunity and I am ready to move into the next phase of my life."

"The project of building a prosperous and nonracial SA will remain close to my heart," he said.

Davis has been a vocal proponent of liberal views inside and outside the DA. In the lead-up to the federal congress in April, Davis co-authored a letter with DA MP Michael Cardo warning of "antiliberal tendencies contained in the proposed diversity clause" to be inserted into the party’s constitution.

They particularly opposed the introduction of quotas, arguing that the DA should guard against individuals being dominated by others in the name of culture, race, gender and religion and urged it to "go beyond demography and celebrate a plurality of thought and ideas".

After much debate at its congress, the DA eventually rejected race-based quotas.