By Leroy Dzenga
Southern Times Correspondent
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance of South Africa, is a politician in a spot of bother and risks getting the tag of new face of puppet in the SADC region, analysts said this week.
They said following Maimane’s attempts to meddle in Zimbabwe’s politics, the DA has been unmasked for what it is: a white capital stockvel with a black face.
Previously, the tag of puppet of white capital and colonial masters in the region had stuck on the late Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi, the late Mozambican rebel Afonso Dhlakama and the late Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Analysts say it was quite telling that those three all died before tasting state power, a sign that the African people resented politicians who fronted for former colonial powers.
Observers say with a few months to go to the South African election, the policy war is a two-horse race between the African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The DA is being pushed further into obscurity with each passing day, and after Julius Malema`s manifesto launch speech last week which has received positive reviews for its clarity, Maimane is feeling the burn.
The ANC has the preponderance of the incumbency and the EFF seems to be increasing its popularity among the grassroots, while the DA is not convincingly visible.
Analysts say feeling left out of the news cycle, Maimane whose party is littered with racism, had no option but smuggle himself into the popular narrative.
He saw Zimbabwe as a “low hanging fruit” and decided to try to throw a few public tantrums in what he described as a crisis.
He went to Zimbabwe`s Pretoria Embassy to deliver a letter meant for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Even after the letter was acknowledged, Maimane instead of waiting for correspondence, started playing to the gallery and continued on a tirade of attacks against the Zimbabwean Government.
Expectedly, his clout chasing episode was met with a strong rebuttal from the Zimbabwean Government which expressed its displeasure.
“Government has taken note of unfortunate and ill-informed position taken by the South Africa Democratic Alliance`s Mmusi Maimane, on the violent disturbances that were orchestrated by the MDC Alliance, in concert with civil society organisations in the country,” Zimbabwe`s Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said in a statement.
She said Maimane jumped the broom and went on a tirade instead of engaging her government with civility.
“It is thus unfortunate that the domestic issues of Zimbabwe have been appropriated by a South African opposition party, which has regrettably taken a position without engaging Zimbabwean authorities,” she said.
In a spectacular show of seeing the log that is in one’s neighbour`s eye, Maimane is ignoring a storm in his own backyard.
Recently, Gwen Ngwenya, who was the DA`s head of policy, tendered her resignation which was accompanied with a letter that carried no kind words for her party leadesership, in essence Maimane.
She said the party did not seem to be recognising her efforts in policy development and was fed up of their lethargic approach towards her work.
There is more to Ngwenya`s resignation than what meets the eye.
A South African publication, City Press, said the disgraceful move was part of a greater plot to humiliate Maimane in the run up to elections.
“City Press understands that the group is discussing the removal of Maimane after this year`s elections, should the party fail to grow beyond 22 percent. This calls for the leader`s removal following a series of blunders which have been damaging to the DA`s reputation,” the newspaper said.
Even his predecessor, Hellen Zille, has publicly condemned Maimane over the way he handled the Gwen Ngwenya saga.
With a storm that points to his possible ouster, many are wondering how he has been getting time to try and meddle in issues above his purview.
Maimane pretends he loves foreigners, especially Zimbabweans, but details that litter his political trail suggest otherwise.
The mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, who belongs to his party, has been called out for publicly exposing xenophobic sentiment.
Even when storms relating to Mashaba`s utterances emerged, Maimane did very little to reprimand his political subordinate for inflammatory remarks.
Zimbabweans in South Africa have dismissed moves by Maimane, who has threatened to take the Zimbabwean issue to the ICC, as mere grandstanding, particularly as the party continuously ignored incessant anti-migrant utterances by Mashaba.
The DA has remained mum on the alleged hate speech against foreign nationals by Mashaba.
Analysts and migrants pointed out xenophobic violence was a crime against humanity, especially the violence that has killed more than 100 people in the country with more than 300 000 others displaced since 2008.
In an interview with CAJ News last week, Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena, Zimbabwe Communist Party (ZCP) secretary general, said Maimane should first condemn Mashaba than prioritising Zimbabwe.
Luke Dzipange Zunga, the Zimbabwe Global Diaspora Development Chamber (ZDDC) chairman, also accused Maimane of grandstanding.
“Maimane is just wasting time because he would not be allowed into Zimbabwe. Secondly, no one from Zimbabwe would listen to DA because they represented the apartheid regime," Zunga argued.
Nyevero Zveushe, a Zimbabwean migrant who survived xenophobic attacks in 2016, said foreign nationals in Johannesburg lived in fear because the mayor always preached hate language against foreigners.
"The most unfortunate part of Maimane's visit to Zimbabwe would be viewed as grandstanding considering in previous xenophobic attacks against foreigners, not even a single official from DA ever condemned human life
loss, including property and displacement of thousands of foreigners," said Zveushe.
Nkechi Okonkwo, a Nigeria national living in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, who was a victim of the 2016 xenophobic attacks, expressed doubt the international community, particularly the African Union (AU) and SADC, would entertain requests by the DA.
“The only opposition across borders that would draw African attention is the EFF because what they stand for resonates well with the majority blacks, which is economic freedom and equal opportunities to both blacks and whites,” Okonkwo said.
Analysts say Maimane has a knack for being seen as a problem solver, but he has not really confronted the greatest problem which has clouded his career.
His party has disregard for those who may not be as economically endowed as white South Africa.
This relates to foreigners and black people.
By trying to publicly chart an unorthodox foreign policy path between himself – a minority opposition leader - and a sovereign government, Maimane showed a degree of self-importance harboured in his party.
How he thought he would be granted an audience in Zimbabwe is surprising, especially considering the relationship that Zanu-PF has with ANC, the ruling party in South Africa.
Curiously, even the opposition in Zimbabwe appeared unmoved by Maimane`s antics.
MDC Alliance senior members graced Julius Malema`s EFF manifesto launch recently.
Which begs the question, does the DA have any currency in Zimbabwe?
What is clear, however, is that Zimbabwe will not save the DA from another electoral loss and the imminent ouster of its black face.
A man slipping from the news cycle as the electoral race heats up will clutch at straws to remain relevant.