- The DA may soon be facing a split as senior leaders have lost confidence in Mmusi Maimane and the direction he taking the party
- They have approached a number of people hoping to recruit them into the new party in the hope of contesting the general elections next year
- It is reported that they plan to appoint Helen Zille their leader
Senior DA leaders who have become disillusioned with the party under the leadership of Mmusi Maimane are plotting to form a splinter party in the hopes of contesting the general elections in 2019.
They have been meeting and are planning to get the Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to be the face of the new splinter party.
Briefly.co.za learned that at least five senior DA leaders are reported to be involved in the plan to form a new party. This comes after tensions have began to boil over within the party over race, transformation and other policy decisions according to citypress.co.za.
Maimane and his close supporters are trying to make the party more accessible to the broader population by addressing transformation and the gulf between the rich and the poor that exists in South Africa.
The internal conflict within the DA threatens to dash their hopes of forcing other parties into coalition governments in various provinces. The DA has chosen to change its policy in reaction to Cyril Ramaphosa's increasing popularity which has made the ANC an attractive option for voters who were disillusioned with the ruling party under Jacob Zuma.
Independent research company Ipsos has revealed that the DA is losing popularity with their current rating at 20% which is down from 22.2% which the DA won during the 2014 general elections.
The DA leaders who plan to form their own party have approached the SA Institute of Race Relations for advice on how to proceed with the dramatic move.
Frans Cronje, the institute's chief executive, has confirmed that at least three meetings have taken place with "like-minded people" and are planning on recruiting "high calibre" individuals.
"Liberalism has never had mass appeal in South Africa, but a lot of its ideas are sensible [when it comes to] the market economy and the like.
"The party, therefore, must not be run as a traditional political party in the sense of rallies and mass campaigns. It should rather seek to attract a small number of high-calibre individuals who would be able to bring their own constituencies into the party.
"That was my advice. Central to that advice is that if the party does not have a big name who is popular in that community, I think it is very unlikely that it is going to succeed," Cronje said.
In June Zille said that she had been approached to head the new party but she had declined but said that there was growing unease within the party.
"There is a group of hardcore DA leaders who feel that the DA is no longer truly liberal – and something is being done about it," he said, referring to the new party. "At the rate the DA is going, it is highly possible that we will wake up in 2019 and see this party contest. A lot of people are really unhappy," she said.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme has dismissed speculation of a split and said that rumours like these are common as the election approaches. She also does not believe that a splinter party would be successful.
"I understand from a lot of white people that they feel alienated and not understood, like they don't belong – and that is a conversation we need to have because they can't go back to the UK or the Netherlands. This is their home. They need to feel like they belong here. That is the project that the DA is engaged in," Van Damme said.
Former DA leader, Tony Leon, believes that the party is facing an identity crisis but denied that he had been approached to form a new party. He also believes that a looming split in the party is just speculation.
"I think there is a corner of South Africa that consists of true believers of different ideologies, and obviously as parties get bigger, they tend to lose their ideological core," Leon said.
Ryan Coetzee, a former strategist, believes that a DA split would guarantee that the ANC would stay in power for decades.
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