Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SUPPLIED

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says a review of the party’s structures and processes should not be construed as a referendum on the party’s leadership.

A letter sent out to all DA structures on Monday by the party leader comes amid a factional battle which has escalated in the past few weeks, placing Maimane at the centre of it. Maimane said allegations levelled against him in recent weeks were part of a “smear campaign”.

The review panel, which included former leader Tony Leon and former party CEO Ryan Coetzee, addressed a broad leadership change as part of its recommendations.

Maimane said the draft report of the review panel will be presented to a meeting of the federal executive on Friday.

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“It must be made clear the review is not a referendum on the leadership of the party, rather on how we improve and renew the organisation. Our nation is in desperate need of hope for the future and the DA is SA’s only hope,” he said.

The report by the review panel was commissioned by party’s federal executive in the wake of the 2019 general elections in which the DA’s support dropped.

In the letter, seen by Business Day, Maimane said it was no secret that the DA found itself in a “tough space, both internally and externally”.  He said it was at a defining moment for both the direction of the party and that of the country.

He appealed to the DA’s public representatives and its members to conduct themselves in a way that strengthened the party.

“The behaviour of some members is unhelpful to the party, whether it be a media interview, social posts, or other forms of public communication. This behaviour stops today. Our opponents are relishing this behaviour while SA suffers as a consequence,” Maimane said.

The DA ought to be the “dispensers” of hope, bringing together South Africans on the basis of shared values, he said. But he said it appeared that some party members were intent on doing the opposite. He said he would be meeting the four candidates who had put forward their names for the federal council chair position to request that internal campaigning was conducted in an “upstanding nondivisive manner”.

Former party leader Helen Zille, deputy chair Thomas Walters, deputy chief whip Mike Waters and chair Athol Trollip are in the running for the key position.

Maimane said rather than slating the party and its leadership in public, candidates ought to demonstrate to delegates what they have to offer the party.