Deceitfully true blue DA keeps getting caught red-handed
With a possible DA-EFF dalliance, I can't believe another word Maimane's party has to say on principles or ethics
We South Africans are a forgiving people. At the moment we’re all solemn-faced about the hear-trending tableau of St Mmusi Maimane taking “full responsibility” for the poor showing in last week’s election of the party he leads, the DA, while being consoled by a winged angel who has taken the form of Athol Trollip. It is a work of Titian sanctity, something for the ages.
Except it’s all a lie. After the election the DA was almost ready to instantly get back into bed with the EFF despite St Mmusi promising from on top of Mount Integrity during the campaign that he would never do such a thing again.
But I have it on the best authority that it came within an inch of happening again. I decided months ago I could not vote DA last week because it does business with the EFF to keep mayors in office in Johannesburg and Tshwane. My thinking was that you can’t be that eager to claim a city or a province or even the nation if you’re prepared to compromise all your principles to do it.
I hate betrayal, or what I see as betrayal. I can’t get past it. But there was the DA taking this huge principled stand against the expropriation of land without compensation and at the same time getting into arrangements with the party most committed to taking land without paying for it just so it could name the mayor of a few big cities. F**k it, I thought, I’m out of here.
And then I started writing in support of Cyril Ramaphosa, who is duty-bound, to his party, to change the Constitution to make more explicit what even the DA agrees it already allows – expropriation without compensation. I am going to assume Ramaphosa will find a suitably benign way through this. He knows the issue has the potential to do immeasurable damage.
Anyway, I received a phone call the other day from someone whose word I would utterly trust in any situation. He told me that last Friday he was in the Electoral Commission’s election centre when a senior leader of the EFF approached him. By that time, you’ll remember, a heightened tension prevailed because it seemed the ANC vote in Gauteng might fall below 50%. As results came in from voting districts, the ANC percentage swung around the halfway mark like a pendulum. Sometimes above, then below.
The EFF leader asked my friend if he would mind conveying to the official that should the DA be interested in striking a deal if the ANC failed to hold the province, then they (the EFF) would be keen to talk to them. Of course, said my friend, who then sauntered over to where a group of DA leaders were gathered. The man he took aside, one of the top people in the party, heard the EFF’s proposition and, I am told, immediately agreed to talk to the EFF.
About what, of course, I do not know. A formal coalition or yet another “arrangement” like in Johannesburg are the only two possibilities. I promised my friend I wouldn’t reveal the names involved. Fortunately for the DA, the ANC won the province. Just. Unfortunately for the DA their readiness to do such a deal has now been confirmed. It is sickening.
Maimane wrote privately to me saying how disappointed he was that I continued to warn they would do EFF deals when he was specifically promising on the campaign trail that they would not.
One DA MP, Ghaleb Cachalia, even sent me a press clipping to “prove” it. I presume it was from a Durban newspaper. The headline on the story is “DA Will Never Work with EFF – Maimane”. It says the DA leader was in Umlazi when he said: “We will never work with a party that is racist … or that wants to advance corruption.”
Well, I absolutely know now that was a lie. When the opportunity arose, they were dead keen to run Gauteng with the EFF. The whole incident reminds me of a passage in Jan-Jan Joubert’s excellent 2018 book Who Will Rule in 2019?, where he interviews DA leader James Selfe. They are talking about coalitions and Selfe puts his hands behind his head and leans back in his chair.
I don’t have the book to hand because I’m moving house and it’s packed, but I remember the gist. Selfe’s golden rule after an election was to say nothing to the public about who you might be talking to. You just do it. So convinced am I by my friend and his role in this beginning of yet another possible DA-EFF dalliance that I will never believe another word the DA has to say on principles or ethics while Maimane, Selfe, Trollop, Jonathan Moakes (head of elections) and the party’s CEO (they have one), Paul Boughey, are in office.
I gave up trying to find the last two on the DA website – that’s how below the radar they are. It’s part of the deceitful essence of what the DA has become since Helen Zille stepped aside in 2015.
• Bruce is a former editor of Business Day and the Financial Mail.