Leader of the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape, Nqaba Bhanga, will meet this weekend with the former Federal Chair of the DA, Athol Trollip to discuss the various roles he can play in the reconfigured party. Bhanga said that Trollip will be asked to reconsider the post of mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Council should the DA take over once again. In the interim, Trollip will be asked to take on training responsibilities to share his experience with younger politicians.
Former leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane, former mayor of Tshwane Herman Mashaba and Trollip all resigned from their posts in a single dramatic week in October. Trollip has decided to remain within the party but gave up his leadership positions to “make way for the new leadership” said Bhanga in an exclusive interview with Grocott’s Mail.
While he framed Trollip’s decision in a positive fashion, Bhanga was more dismissive of Maimane’s decision to resign from the party. He believes that Maimane made a mistake by announcing his decisions in an emotional state of mind.
Bhanga said Maimane’s decision was prompted by a report circulated within the party that called for a new leader. This report was compiled be several senior members of the party but its overall recommendations were widely supported by party caucuses.
Bhanga said that when Maimane initially contested the leadership of the party, he advised Maimane against it because leaders only have a limited lifespan at the helm of a party. He said that the issue was not Maimane’s relative youth, but the fact that he would be reaching the end of his term as party leader, when the DA is in a position to elect a president for the country.
He concluded that part of the interview saying that, “… and now it’s the time that the era of Mr
Maimane and the DA have come to the end”.
Commenting on the recent DA loss of Ward 12 in Makana local municipality, Bhanga said that it did not mean there was anything wrong with the party or the candidate. He said that it was a strategic mistake to put up a candidate who was not part of the Rhodes University student body. The greater part of the Ward is covered by the university campus and so it would have been more appropriate to choose a candidate from the Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO).
He also ascribed other by-election losses suffered by the DA as a typical consequence of more emotive issues holding sway over voters in between elections. Bhanga described land restitution as one such emotive issues that caused left leaning voters to choose the ANC or the EFF while those on the right sought refuge within the Freedom Front.
Bhanga said that in the next local elections, voters will revert to their normal patterns of voting and the DA will recoup their losses and make even further inroads into the ruling party’s support base.