Maimane – ‘We Must Build a Party for All South Africans’

Delegates of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), have chosen their first black leader. Speaking to DW,Mmusi Maimane said he will build on shared values to broaden the appeal of his party.

Mmusi Maimane, what made you stand out from your opponents to clinch the DA’s top leadership?

Well, I think one of the key things is obviously the fact that we’ve worked a very hard campaign. It’s been very positive.

The DA made huge gains in last year’s election, garnering 22 percent of the vote. How do you plan to capitalize on that lead?

We got a great start. What we launched at this congress was the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity. Now the next period of hard work is about making sure that we find more South Africans who share those values with us to come and vote for us. We believe we have to grow this party.

The DA has often been described as primarily representing the interests of South Africa’s white minority. How do you intend to change that under your leadership?

We’ve been strong on principle that we must build a nonracial party, a party for all South Africans. To be able to achieve that means that we’ve got to go out and communicate strongly on values and be able to share with South Africans who share those values with us. So I’m taking a look forward to building a party of equity, building a party of more people who are present in as many different communities as possible, but also of people being angered by issues that affect the communities that we haven’t yet reached. Being angered about the education of blacks or being angered about the current nature of how things are working in this country. The issue of corruption.

And do you hope that your position as parliamentary leader and now also as the leader of the DA will help you lure more black voters to the Democratic Alliance?

Well, we’ll merge that role and then I’ll simply be doing both roles. But I believe that we’ve got a great opportunity now to be able to make Parliament the center and to be able to dominate respects from Parliament and be able to lead from Parliament.

Mmusi Maimane is the new leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. He is also his party’s parliamentary leader.