South Africa: There's No Place for Decency in the SA Political Establishment. Just Ask Mmusi Maimane

Former Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, left; new DA Federal Council Chairperson, Helen Zille, centre; and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

It should not be forgotten that politics needs a bit of bite, that nice people might finish last, and that SA politics is not for sissies. But it is still worth asking whether our politics has entered a space in which only the tough, rough and shamelessly nasty survive.

The resignation of Mmusi Maimane as leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) is part of a series of different dynamics that are affecting that party and others in SA politics. There are important reasons why he felt he had to resign last week. However, in the dust, finger-pointing and sometimes scorn, one major point should not be forgotten: Maimane is a decent, upright man. And if someone like him is not able to survive in our political arena, what could that mean for our politics and our medium-term future?

To claim that Maimane, a politician, is decent, is surprisingly uncontroversial. The ANC has remained relatively quiet on his resignation. The party that is ideologically opposed to the DA, the EFF, referred to him as "capable, non-corrupt and absolutely ethically upright". It claimed that his resignation showed the DA is unable to transform from being a white party.

Maimane's back-story helps to...

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