DA’s Mnqasela confident of winning Federal Chair position

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Former Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and now member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, Masizole Mnqasela, says the DA should move away from boardroom politics, and give more focus on politics on the ground.

Mnqasela is one of three candidates to contest the federal leader position at the DA’s elective congress to be held in Port Elizabeth this weekend. His two rivals are Makashule Gana and Athol Trollip.

Mnqasela, is contesting the position for the second time. In 2012 he stood against the current federal chairperson Wilmot James.
Mnqasela who received 30% of the votes at the previous congress, says he won’t give up.

“I have been approached by leaders in the organisation who feel that I should make myself available and I am sure you saw that I did not run a robust campaign and now you are going to see, die poppe sal dans because people are saying they want me, they want a character that will motivate them, to feel strong about themselves, to feel that they are involved in the organisation to feel that they can express their views openly without fear.”

What makes him so certain, that he will be victorious during this round of elections?

“Because I am an activist, I am an organic leader, I don’t read about leadership, I grew up a leader and I was born a leader and whatever I have done and learnt in my life as a public rep and in other responsibility, its things that have harnessed my role in leadership.”

He was the first black DA councillor in the Cape Metro.

But who is Masizole Mnqasela?

Masizole was born in Nqadu village in the old Transkei in a small town called Tsolo in the Eastern Cape. “I’m actually a sibling of four so I am the eldest, My mother is from KwaZulu- Natal, from Kwa Mashu, she was born there and my father from the village.So they met there when they were young at school in the Transkei.”

Mnqasela’s first political home was the ANC. He was involved in student politics. He then joined the DA in 2002, and was able to open the first DA branch in an ANC stronghold in Khayelitsha in 2003.

“The first time I came involved with the Democratic Alliance more than twelve years ago, was when it was not sexy to become a member of the DA, it was not romantic to become a members of the DA, because it was seen as a white party, and we come from those very sad days…. The DA has been very progressive, but we need more character that will attract people, so that ordinarily members will feel at home here, and members will feel they belong here.”

Mnqasela recounts how challenging it was for him to be a DA member in a township, thirteen years ago. “Those days I used to be arrested every weekend and Helen Zille and my lawyer Frank Raymond used to get me out of police custody. Because the environment was just volatile, the sin was for myself bringing the DA in a community where it was not tradition to have a party like the Democratic Alliance.”

He was the first black DA councillor in the Cape Metro.

Mnqasela says the DA should move away from board room politics. He says trust is a strong determining factor in politics, something which he says DA will have to work hard on, if it wants to win the hearts of many marginalised South Africans.

“What becomes very important for us as an organisation is that the leaders we elect, the leader we put forward, must resonate with the masses on the ground, so that when they look at the organisation they look at the kind of leader we put forward, they too must see themselves through us, so that if they say if Masizole is there, then definitely, because he knows my problems he understands my plight but also he feels my pain, but that does not come cheap by writing media statements, by having progress conferences, we must not be an organisation of boardroom, let’s leave the boardroom and go door to door talk to people and have public meetings, street meetings.”
Mnqasela’s political career within the DA has not been without controversy. He clashed with Zille in 2012 when he refused to endorse former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.

He was called a verwoedian by Zille. But he says it is water under the bridge. “I can assure you that there were many things that happened at the time, and all of us we would like not to repeat the same things that happened, but I can tell you it happened at that time because it was necessary.”

He says he is confident that he will be victorious at the federal elective congress this weekend. “I am going to win, members have been telling me that they cannot wait and I have covered enough ground across the country and I have been talking to people, public reps, leaders, councillors, MPs and Members of Provincial legislatures, and I have never been this certain about this victory because after this congress, we must come out of this congress with either a change of heart and mind, and that is how we go to our people, how we talk to our people.’

But what would he do if he is defeated by the other two contenders. “I am a democrat, in 2012 I stood against Wilmot James, I did not win. I was the first person to come out of the congress and congratulated those who have won and I will do the same and I expect that this time when I win, they congratulate me because I will win in this congress.”

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