Despite stepping down as AD leader three years ago, Mmusi Maimane remains popular among South Africans, second only to Cyril Ramaphosa as the most popular leader. After realizing that the promised electoral reform would take much longer than expected, on Heritage Day (September 24), Maimane returned to the fray with the launch of Build One South Africa (BOSA), the newest political party from the country. In this interview with BizNews’ Alec Hogg, the former opposition leader explains why he identifies with Teddy Rooseveld’s ‘Man in the Arena’, shares his dreams for SA and unveils his plans for BOSA to get a big stake votes in 2024. national election. These include applying an Obama-style digital approach to targeting 5 million voters.
Excerpts from the interview with Mmusi Maimane
Mmusi Maimane on the creation of Build One South Africa
I sincerely believe in this country. I sincerely believe that the people of this country are looking for an alternative. I know that our fight to amend the electoral law is still ongoing but will not be ready until 2024. So the only way to legitimately run for president is to run with a political party and invite citizens who share your values. stand with you and challenge in 2024. So if we are true about what we believe, if we believe in a non-racial world, if we believe this country is worth fighting for and saving, then not only we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines, we have to do our best to get in the ring and fight for it in the best way possible. I’m the one doing this.
By daring to try
I think it’s up to every human being to strive for something great. And I think it’s emblematic of our country that despite all the negativity, we’ve triumphed before. And I’m confident we can again. But also on a personal level, it sums up part of my journey over the past few years. I know what it is to fail and to fail greatly. I know defeat. I know what it’s like to walk away from Parliament with no income. I know what it is like to be victorious in an election to form coalition governments and everyone is happy about that. And I also knew the fact that anything worth doing requires the intensity of combat. So I like to think of myself as someone who says that your actions – no matter how impossible, no matter how difficult, are better than inaction, born out of some form of inertia and overthinking and sitting on the touches and sort of, well, it’s impossible because it gets very cynical. I remember Barack Obama’s words in his last speech in Chicago, where he said, “The thing we have to guard against most is cynicism, because once you’re cynical, it’s breeding ground for corruption. Once you are cynical, you forget the fact that it is still possible to do something very important”. And others, as I opened my speech on Heritage Day, said people would think we’re crazy. But again, it’s the crazy ones who tend to try to change the world.
On the amendments to the electoral law changing the strategy of Mmusi
He had to and will continue to fight for electoral reform both within Parliament and for the long term good of this country. Because I’ve always believed that politicians are more functional when they’re accountable to communities directly elected by the people, it doesn’t change what needed to happen here and here are some key obstacles to this problem. So if I said anyone, an independent, has to run for office. Let me use Rob Hersov as a name. He would have to get 80,000 votes, which is impossible, in general, because I think political parties get less than that and get two seats. And worse still, the ability to register to be on the ballot takes more work in the sense that you need about 15,000 signatures and really a political party only needs about 15,000 signatures. ‘a thousand. So the typical analogy I’ve used is that Parliament is asking people to say, if you want to lead the comrades as an independent, you’re going to have to run backwards without shoes and we hope to see you at the finishing line.
And that is clearly impossible. So we had to change strategy. We are not changing the principle. We created a political party. I also believe that version 2.0 is that, at a certain level, we franchise the model of politics by saying, given the vision we have for this country and I have always told you that my rallying cry for the south -Africans is it possible to put a job in every house? Right? So if you take that as a rallying call, like our ‘build the wall’, like ‘a chicken in every pot’. But if this is our organizational mission, then does everything we do, whether it’s legislation that we have to meet, create a job in every household? Whether education? Does it help our children complete their education? So we’ve created a job in every home, whether it’s health care. Do we have a healthy working system? Whether it’s security? Can we bring tourists to the country in order to create a job in every household? This is our organizational mission. And I would say now we can bring together all the citizens of their communities to be really excited about the fact that I can create jobs in my community, I can create jobs on my street. And if we get more people animated by that, I really believe that this whole conversation about the subject that the former president has and others have about the lack of consensus, how we tell ourselves, in fact, the only consensus what we need to get to that is, can we bring economic prosperity to all citizens and make sure everyone is safe?
If we work on this and build South Africa, we can ask companies to do it. We can be a civic society and ultimately we have a purpose. And to underline the point, when we were aiming for the World Cup in 2010, no one can deny that this country had a budget surplus, we knew how to surf the crash of 2008. In fact, the murder rate in 2010 was lower. And in the same way, it gave us something as a country to focus on. I say 2024 to 2029, we have to put that on the table. Ask every citizen to focus on just that. And I think we can look to what this country has shown before, they can do it again.
On who he expects to vote for BOSA
I want to talk to citizens who share values like mine. And I know that sounds easier, but there are voters sitting in the ANC who say, I actually want a non-racial country. I want a safe country. I want jobs. I want education. They are like me. There are voters who are registered to vote. Thus, on the electoral list of 19 million people, there are enough citizens sitting at five and a half million who would already commit and share the values. Currently, they are afraid. They worry about what will happen when the ANC collapses. They worry about their future. We need to be able to guide them in times of crisis so we can say, we have a plan to get you out. So it’s already in the registered constituency. You don’t have to pay any fees to have them registered. But in addition, I think, you know, I was on another radio show this morning with young people and the young people were incredibly sensitive to this issue. As seen in universities. Let’s take a simple example. If you look at the UCT elections that are going on right now, the biggest winners were all independent candidates. They effectively broke away from the current political system and said, we want to work for something different. So I think young people are looking for something new. The work we must do is the work that inspires hope. It’s the work that concretely shows people that we have a plan because young people didn’t fight for #FeesMustFall. Whether you stand up and tell them you’re going to stop a kid from going to college, make it possible for them. I think they will line up, register to vote, and do the work you need.
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