Johannesburg - Political analysts have commended South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for defending main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane against his fellow party members, which they describe as a sign of political maturity.
Ramaphosa on Tuesday said the ANC would stand by Maimane, who is facing serious rebellion from DA, for allegedly uttering racist statements in his Freedom Day commemoration speech. Maimane told party supporters that South Africans had to confront “white privilege and black poverty” to bring about the true meaning of freedom.
The statement did not go well with other members of his party and he is now under fire. President Ramaphosa, however, defended Maimane saying there is nothing wrong with acknowledging what happened in the past because it cannot be deleted from the history of the nation. “South Africans need to acknowledge that what is being complained about racial discrimination indeed did happened, white privilege and black poverty should be consigned to the past.
“In this context, I wish to commend Honourable Maimane for having made exactly the same statement in his Freedom Day message.
We will be the first to defend Mmusi Maimane against those in his own party, who want to deny the reality of racial inequality in South Africa. “We will rise in unison, Mr Maimane, to defend you because your message was on point; you were absolutely correct.
We were alarmed to see headlines in a local newspaper, which said the majority of DA members are turning against you because you were telling the truth,” said president Ramaphosa.
Political analyst, Isaac Samukheliso, told The Southern Times that the move taken by the President was commendable considering the sensitivity of the issue.
“President Ramaphosa really responded to this issue with uttermost fairness. It is unfair for people to want to distort a history because of political affiliation. Maimane’s statement wasn’t wrong in any way. DA must rise above mere propaganda and face reality. South Africans are not fools and they are not to be fooled through mere politicking,” said Samukheliso.
Constance Tshuma, a political science lecturer, was also in support of the president’s words. “It is politically wrong for the DA to persecute their leader for making factual statements.
Definitely, like the president said, white privilege and black poverty cannot be separated from our history,” said Tshuma.
Inside sources from the DA say Maimane’s three most senior DA colleagues took him to task over the comments on white privilege.
In a meeting with Maimane, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, his deputy Mike Waters and MP Natasha Mazzone, with the support of MP Ghaleb Cachalia, allegedly raised concerns over the impact of his utterances on white voters ahead of the general elections next year. Some DA members are worried about how the issue of diversity and race within the party would affect their positions, as well as the impact this would have on jobs for senior white DA members in parliament and in government.