Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane believes that the party has the ability to retain control of the Western Cape and establish coalition governments in at least two other provinces.
In an interview in the wake of the party’s manifesto launch in Johannesburg at the weekend, Maimane told Mail & Guardian that he was confident that the official opposition would improve on or equal its showing in the 2014 national and 2016 local government elections.
It hopes to take both Gauteng and the Northern Cape from the governing party, albeit through coalitions with other opposition parties, in the May 8 election.
The party took control of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay in 2016, building on its electoral growth in 2014, which saw it consolidate its majority in the Western Cape.
“We are focusing on forming a government in Gauteng and the Northern Cape and retaining the Western Cape and on growing beyond the results of 2014,” he said.
Describing the DA manifesto as a “political plan that says how we will bring about reform in South Africa”, Maimane said the party would enter into post-poll coalitions, but would only engage with parties that shared its commitment to defending the Constitution and a market based economy.
The DA has, since the 2016 local government elections, been in coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) in a variety of municipalities around the country, with often chaotic results.
“Coalitions aren’t about ‘who’ but about ‘what’,” he said, adding that coalitions partners would also need to subscribe to non-racialism, the building of a “capable state” and the “eventual eradication of corruption.”
Maimane said the party’s plan for “a job in every home” would be achieved through relaxing labour laws and the introduction of a voluntary national civic service, which would give unemployed school leavers paid internships in the security, education and health sectors.
The DA leader downplayed the impact of tensions within the party which has seen the departure of former Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille and other senior party figures in recent years.
“I think the DA has never been more united,” he said.
“The DA has a proud history of debate.
Debate is good for a political party.”
Maimane said talk of discord within the ranks between old guard liberals and social democrats in the party was “frankly not true.”
“We contest for ideas, but the party is united,” he said.