Mmusi Maimane: Victim or Accomplice of White Supremacy?

Mmusi Maimane: Victim or Accomplice of White Supremacy?

“In historic and philosophical terms, the DA’s ideology of liberalism has nothing to do with the plight of the poor or blacks, but everything to do with protecting the property and civil liberties of the privileged sections of society (the majority of whom are whites). Right thinking blacks should therefore dismiss the DA's existence as nothing else but a sophisticated old liberal trick, which is aimed at maintaining white privilege.

The DA desperately needs struggle credentials because they realise that, in order to advance the agenda of white capital in South Africa, they need to legitimatise themselves in the eyes of blacks by dressing in the regalia of the liberation struggle. Their strategy involves using certificated but user friendly young blacks like Lindiwe Mazibuko and Maimane Mmusi.”

This extract is taken from an article I wrote in 2013, which was titled ‘Why The DA Can Never Have Struggle Credentials’ (Published by Pambazuka News). I went back to this article because I remembered I am one of those of whom it can be said I ‘warned’ Brother Mmusi Maimane about the true nature of the DA (and by extension that of white people).

I also know he received my ‘warning’ because he attempted to offer a rebuttal to my argument and his attempt was published in the Sowetan, shortly after my article. However, the fact that, even a political nobody like me sought to warn him, is not of importance for this particular discourse.

There is currently a lot of commotion on both traditional and social media platforms about an assertion that is made in the book ‘Future Tense’ by former DA leader, Tony Leon that, another former DA leader, Brother Mmusi Maimane was “an experiment gone wrong”. I listened to the interviews by both Leon and Brother Maimane on this particular assertion.

Leon essentially stuck to his guns and gave further context to what he meant. Brother Maimane took offence and also used the opportunity to talk about his record as DA leader.

The first question I asked myself (even before listening to Leon’s elaboration), was: can we as Black people in South AfriKKKa, in good conscience, really say Brother Mmusi Maimane was not ‘experimented’ with or part of an ‘experiment’?

Can we really say so? Brother Mmusi Maimane joined the DA in 2009. In 2011 he was made its national spokesperson. In 2012, he was elected as Deputy Federal Chairperson. In 2014, the DA’s parliamentary caucus elected him as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.

Then, in 2015, he was elected as leader of the DA at its Federal Congress, succeeding Helen Zille. This means that, two years after joining the DA, he was made national spokesperson. Three years after joining, he became Deputy Federal Chairperson.

Four years after joining, he became leader of the Official Opposition in parliament. And then five years after joining, he ascended to the highest position available: leader of the party.

How does a young Black man with no tangible record of political activism, join a white party (with a longer history than his own life) and within 6 years of joining, he is at helm of that party? Brother Maimane joined the DA at age 29 and at 35, he was its leader.

When some of us Black people saw the meteoric rise of Brother Mmusi, informed by experience not only in organisational politics, but also our interaction with white controlled institutions, we reacted in various ways to his rise within this white institution called the DA.

Some of us Black people said things like he is simply a ‘puppet’ of the madam (Hellen Zille) and similar things. My own sense is that some of it was not so much a reflection on Brother Mmusi’s intellect or abilities, but more inspired by our own experiences as Black people in our interaction with white institutions or white people.

So, long before Tony Leon's assertion, many of us Black people were openly saying that our Brother Mmusi was some kind of instrument in the hands of the powerful white inner-circle that controls the DA. We said the same thing about uSis'Lindiwe Mazibuko.

So, today, Tony Leon, a founder of the DA (an organisation that Mmusi joined and not founded), makes the same point we have been making. The only difference being he is doing so from the perspective on an insider and some Black people are offended by this and call for us to confront Leon, why?

Many of us Blacks knew then that Brother Mmusi was being ‘experimented’ with and that it would end in tears, and we didn’t need Leon to make this prediction. And this is because our history as Black people is replete with examples of young bright minds that often get ‘experimented’ with by whiteness.

So the ‘experimentation’ with Brother Mmusi is nothing new and it is not about to stop soon. Was Zille’s plan to get uMama uDr Mamphela Ramphele to lead the DA not another attempt at ‘experimenting’ with yet another bright black mind?

But let us forget for a moment what our perceptions of Brother Mmusi’s meteoric within the DA were. Let us look at some of the most practical things that he did that will constitute his legacy as DA leader and as politician, and what these things mean for Black people in South AfriKKKa and elsewhere.

As leader of the DA, Brother Mmusi Maimane proudly strengthened a counter revolutionary project called SAVE South Africa. A project whose ideological grounding was unapologetically capitalist, neoliberal, anti-black and concealed its real agenda behind the veil of anti-corruption and liberal constitutionalism.

As leader of the DA, Brother Mmusi Maimane opposed the expropriation of land without compensation in South AfriKKKa. He said,

“Expropriation without compensation is state-sanctioned theft‚ which is inimical to economic growth and development…property rights were the bedrock of development and economic growth and the country could not have a growing and thriving economy if it pursued expropriation of land without compensation.”

The DA is currently running a petition against the Expropriation Bill. As leader of the DA, Brother Mmusi Maimane didn’t just openly support the western imperialist agenda of regime change in South AfriKKKa, but also in Afrika and other parts of the world.

In his role as Chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), Brother Maimane mobilised opposition parties in SADC with the view to get the support of bodies like the United Nations, the International Criminal Court to endorse the DA’s regime change programme in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

In an attempt to give legitimacy to the DA’s imperialist regime change project, Maimane said,

“Despite this humanitarian crisis, Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government has sat on its hands and watched on, employing its “quiet diplomacy” policy. There has been no advocacy for the citizens, no justice for the deceased, and no protection of civil liberties for those who are currently detained. Last week, the DA approached President Ramaphosa.

For President Ramaphosa and his ANC, maintaining the brotherhood of “big man politics” across the continent is more important than the dignity, livelihood and human rights of fellow human beings. From Zimbabwe, to Zambia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the ANC has chosen oppressors over the oppressed.

There has been no new dawn. It was simply an act of window dressing designed to keep the power and the patronage in-house. When Robert Mugabe – just like Jacob Zuma – become too toxic for the people to tolerate, they were simply discarded in favour for someone more palatable.

But around him nothing else changes. This is not the change the people of both countries desperately need.As Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), I would like to make it clear that we will stand with the people of Zimbabwe and fight against the oppression and murder of innocent Zimbabweans who are mobilising and calling for change.

You have many friends in South Africa.

Beyond your borders you have millions of allies in your fight for a free and open society. Therefore, the DA will pursue a set of immediate interventions to resolve the current crisis occurring in Zimbabwe. The injustice that is occurring in Zimbabwe cannot be ignored.”

As DA leader, Brother Mmusi Maimane entered into a cooperation agreement with Primero Justicia, one of the political groups in Venezuela that were part of the US-sponsored project to remove both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. At the signing of this nefarious agreement, Maimane said,

“Earlier this morning, the DA’s delegation met with Miguel and Jose who gave us a first-hand account of the dire situation in Venezuela. It is important that South Africans hear the real story of the situation in Venezuela, as there are some in our country – including in the ANC – who venerate and celebrate what has happened in Venezuela as a model of “radical transformation”.

These powerful lobbies in the ANC, and their fellow travellers in other parties, are proposing and adopting policies that threaten to take South Africa down a destructive path. In their words, this comes down to three interrelated policies enforced by the governing party in Venezuela: Expropriation of land without compensation, the nationalisation of banks, mines and other industries, and institutionalised corruption through nepotism and cadre deployment.

Venezuela’s collapse began with the election of Hugo Chávez as President in 1998, a radical populist who preached state control and ownership of the country and its resources as the answer.

A year later, in 1999, the Constitution was amended to declare that ‘the predominance of large idle estates (latifundios) was contrary to the interests of society’.

In other words, similar to the direction the ANC government is headed, the Venezuelan constitution was changed to allow the government to expropriate land without compensation.

In practice, however, it was not only ‘idle’ land that was taken. The government implicitly encouraged land invasions, which often reduced productivity to the point where farms became ‘idle’ enough to qualify for expropriation.

Land was also allocated according to political criteria, with those who supported the government first in line to receive land. In 2003, the government escalated its assault on the economy by introducing price controls. Over the coming years, rapid economic decline followed.

Agricultural production dropped sharply between 2007 and 2011: maize by 40%, rice by 39%, sorghum by 83%, sugar cane by 37%, coffee by 47%, potatoes by 64%, tomatoes by 34%, and onions by 25%. Large quantities of fertile land fell out of production, while food imports continued to rise.

This led to people having to queue for five to six hours a day in the hope of buying food and other much-needed items. Rather than admit these policies were a failure, and start over, in 2014 the government tightened the price controls further. Both farmers and food producers were forced to sell at prices below production costs, which cut supply even further.

The manipulation of the economy by the government resulted in investment flight and between 2013 and 2017 Venezuela’s economy contracted by 39%. The very people the populists claimed to care for are the ones suffering the most. Extreme poverty grew from 24% of the population in 2014 to 61% in 2017.

The infant mortality rate increased a hundredfold during the period of 2012 to 2015, and is now higher than in war-torn Syria. The minimum wage has actually fallen by 75%. Inflation has reached 1 million percent. Today, Venezuela is a humanitarian tragedy, and it is only getting worse.

The country has all but been destroyed – 80% of the population lives in poverty, and three quarters of the population are under-nourished or hungry. The inability to import sufficient food and medicine means the crisis is fast spiralling.

While the majority of Venezuelans are poor, hungry, and hopeless, the politically connected elite are rich and untouchable. Now that South Africa will hold a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2019 – 2020, we challenge President Ramaphosa to use our position on the UNSC to try to resolve the crisis in Venezuela and return the country to open democracy.

South Africa must use its position on UNSC to advance liberal democracy and stand up for justice, freedom and human rights across the globe. The ANC government needs to stop siding with dictators, and thug-governments. The Venezuelan story is a warning of the dangers of radical populism in South Africa.

We must not be arrogant enough to think that it cannot be related here, when many of the same social and political signs that existed in Venezuela in 1999 also exist in South Africa today. We must see the signs and call them out: the divisive language, pitting South Africans against each other, the dangerous violent language, the incitement, the talk of genocide, the use of race to provide cover for the abuse of power, and the destructive socialist policies which only guarantee more poverty and suffering. We must see these things clearly for what they are, and stop them now.

ANC and the EFF. Both the ANC and the EFF agree with and champion the same ideas that have brought Venezuela to its knees: An assault on property rights through expropriation of land without compensation; the nationalisation of banks and key industries, creeping state authoritarianism and the abuse of power, and corrupt government filled with deployed cadres.

While in Venezuela it began with land, we must not view land expropriation in isolation. It is the deadly concoction of land expropriation, nationalisation, centralisation of power, corruption and populism that leads to collapse.

As was the case in Zimbabwe and Venezuela, this comes with entitlement, envy, division, hatred of others, and more often than not, violence. These things are the antithesis of our vision of building One South Africa For All”.

Notice how Brother Maimane was able to appropriate the language of social justice for the poor to justify a nefarious regime change programme in Zimbabwe and Venezuela, and how he applies statistics and economics data selectively, and at no stage does he implicate the role of sanctions and other forms of western illegal sabotage such as the assassination attempts on Baba Mugabe, Chavez and Maduro.

In addition to allowing himself to be the black face of a white-capitalist-anti-black project, referred to as the DA, whose agenda included then and now, frustrating state attempts that are aimed at black economic redress in South AfriKKKa, Brother Maimane also allowed himself to become a useful instrument for the DA’s nefarious western-aligned imperialist agenda in such places as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Israel and Venezuela.

In all the instances that I cited, Brother Mmusi was not a supporter or ordinary member of the DA. He was its leader. A decision-maker. Like all decision-makers Brother Mmusi must be held accountable for his role in bolstering white power and imperialism in South AfriKKKa and elsewhere.

Essentially, in his role as DA leader, Brother Mmusi Maimane proudly and knowingly strengthened the muscle of white power, capitalism, neoliberalism and imperialism, in South AfriKKKa, Afrika and other parts of the world

In my view therefore, Brother Mmusi Maimane has done immeasurable damage to the project of Black liberation in South AfriKKKa and in Afrika. In fact, the damage that he has done is nothing compared to him being called ‘an experiment gone wrong’ by Tony Leon.

Therefore, to make Leon’s anti-black vitriol the main focus is to obscure Brother Maimane’s treacherous role as an enabler of white supremacy.

In his role as DA leader, Brother Mmusi Maimane was an accomplice in the project of white supremacy. And therefore, in his skirmish with Leon, he is not deserving of any solidarity or defence by Black people.

There are many Black people who, at this moment, are more deserving of our solidarity as Black people. The Black students who are fighting for free and decolonised education deserve our solidarity.

The Black artists who are fighting for their dignity deserve our solidarity. The families of Nathaniel Julies, Musa Magasela and Mthokozisi Ntumba deserve our solidarity. What exactly has Brother Mmusi Maimane done to deserve the solidarity of Black people?

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Veli Mbele

Veli Mbele

Veli Mbele is an Afrocentric essayist and secretary of the Black Power Front.

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