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'Mmusi Maimane is a complete puppet,' says Obert Gutu

by Staff reporter
02 Feb 2019 at 06:34hrs | Views
MDC-T Deputy President Obert Gutu has waded into the debate regarding South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane's impending visit to Zimbabwe, saying the Democratic Alliance leader is a "full-fledged puppet."

Maimane has stoked controversy by wading into Zimbabwean politics, saying he was in solidarity with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, hence the planned visit.

Gutu says he was left convinced Maimane is a puppet after reading a book titled ‘Mmusi Maimane Prophet or Puppet' published in 2016 by Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Said Gutu: "Just read this book and you will understand and appreciate that Mmusi Maimane is a fully-fledged PUPPET."

Although Gutu did not elaborate how he came at his conclusion from reading the book, the discussion on whether Maimane was on a leash of radical white forces in South Africa has been going on for close to a decade now, so much so that South African authors have gone as far as delving into writing books on the subject.

'Mmusi Maimane Prophet or Puppet' is an unauthorized biography of Maimane written by one of South Africa's seasoned political journalist, S'thembiso Msomi.
Obert Gutu says Mmusi Maimane, the DA leader, is a puppet.

Mmusi Maimane was elected as the first black leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) on 10th May 2015.

The DA is a South African political party and the official opposition to the governing African National Congress (ANC).

The title of the book is a play on Maimane's dual roles as a lay preacher hence ‘Prophet', and as a leader of a previously largely ‘white' party, hence the ‘Puppet.'

Gutu is not alone in holding those sentiments about Maimane. Even in South Africa, the DA political enemies have charged that Maimane is nothing but a ‘rent a black' puppet in the party, according to opinions gathered by politics website

"Mr Maimane, good evening to you and, with the greatest of respect, who are you?" This is how South African journalist Jeremy Maggs began his television interview with Mmusi Maimane in 2011 when he was unveiled as the Democratic Alliance's mayoral candidate for Johannesburg.

Since then, the charismatic Maimane's rise from obscurity to leader of the DA in 2015 has been nothing short of meteoric.

His anointment as leader of the DA made history, marking the completion of this political party's transformation from ‘white' political party to one whose new leader shared similar experiences to those of the majority voters.

Yet there are those like Obert Gutu, even within the DA party, who denounce Maimane as nothing more than a puppet dancing to the tune of white masters.

So who is the real Maimane? Experienced political reporter S'thembiso Msomi went behind the scenes to examine how and why Maimane rose head up the opposition party.

He delved into Maimane's formative years, his time at the pulpit in the church, and his family, to bring substance to the man.

Msomi also examined Maimane's first year as head of the DA in the run-up to the local government elections, assessing how this young man has negotiated the often treacherous waters of political power. Finally, the author attempts to answer these burning questions: is Maimane his own man, and can he deliver the electorate that the DA so fervently desires?

By tracing the path of Maimane's life, the book seeks sheds new light into the making both of the man and the DA's political transformation from a ‘white' political party to one whose new leader shared similar experiences to those of majority of voters.

As the mantra goes, Maimane seeks to build the DA into an oasis of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for All. The book seeks to and succeeds in bringing forth the early successes of Maimane in his quest to repackage the opposition party as a party for all committed to a shared future with the majority of South Africans.    

Msomi spent several months following his subject in his day-to-day political engagements with a variety of constituencies.

In Msomi's attempt to bring a full picture of the first black leader of the DA, he attempted to connect the dots of Maimane's life – speaking to his childhood friends, acquaintances, teachers and family members.

He spent a considerable amount of time with the man who recruited Maimane into the DA.

We learn that it took the DA Member of Parliament Ian Ollis three years to finally win Maimane over to the ‘Blue machine'.

Msomi also navigated a mountain of documentary evidence such as newspaper clippings, Maimane's speeches and broadcast clips to bring to us a full bodied picture of Maimane.

In his analyses of Maimane's speeches, Msomi could discern a man at ease with himself. It becomes clear that Maimane is affable, warm and a leading orator amongst South Africa's politicians.

'Mmusi Maimane Prophet or Puppet' retraces the steps of Maimane from his birth in Dobsonville, a township in greater Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa to his meteoric rise from obscurity to head one of the fastest growing opposition party in South Africa.

It touches on how he grappled with the idea of joining a liberal political party considering that he had always identified himself with the ANC. Msomi brings to life the voices and places that made Maimane in a manner devoid of puffery.

However, the book lacks Maimane's exclusive voice as it seems the author was unable to have an in-depth interview with him.

The theme of whether Maimane is a puppet is well interrogated but not the ‘Prophet' part of the equation. Msomi argues that Maimane might be a prisoner to the DA's political past, hence the question, Prophet or Puppet?

This week, South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mphakama Mbete urged Maimane to stay out of Zimbabwe's politics, amid indications the Zimbabwe government could turn away Mr. Maimane at the Harare airport should he proceed with next week's planned visit to Zimbabwe.

This comes as Mr Mmusi Maimane announced Wednesday that he plans to visit Zimbabwe this week to meet with opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.

Maimane followed that with a hard-hitting letter he wrote Thursday to President Mnangagwa and handed it to the Zimbabwean embassy officials in Pretoria yesterday, demanding a meeting with the Zimbabwean leader.

There are fears that Maimane "could be deported at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe international airport by the Zimbabwe government the same way he was deported at the Kenneth Kaunda international airport in May 2017" after he meddled in Zambian politics.

"I will pay a working visit to Zimbabwe this week. I will meet with current opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, and former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Tendai Biti, among others," Mr Maimane said on Monday, without giving a date.

He added: "The purpose of this visit is to seek practical solutions to the ongoing crisis, and garner support across the region for much-needed intervention in Zimbabwe."

Maimane has been described by the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi as a "reckless politician funded by ex-Rhodesian unhappy with our land reform".
Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi , agrees with Obert Gutu that the DA leader is a puppet of ex-Rhodesian interests.

This was after Maimane had indicated he was reporting Zimbabwe to the International Criminal Court at the Hague and other international bodies for human right violations following the violent protests of mid-January.

Said Mutodi: "We note some reckless statements by DA's Mmusi Maimane who is funded by ex-Rhodhesians unhappy with our land reform suggesting that Zimbabwe needs an ICC probe to which it is not a signatory.

"Nowhere in the world including SA and the US has anarchy been condoned under the guise of protest."

In May 2017, Maimane was turned away at Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda airport and had his cellphones and other valuables confiscated before being bundled on the next flight to South Africa.

Heavily armed immigration officers prevented him from entering Zambia where he wanted to "drum up support and show solidarity with Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema" who was being incarcerated for treason.

Hichilema had reportedly refused to give way to Zambian President Edgar Lungu's motorcade, insisting he was the legitimate president and did not recognize Lungu.

A source at the Ministry of Information told ZOOMZimbabwe that "it was not impossible for the Harare government to treat Maimane the Zambian way", meaning he could be deported as what happened in Zambia.

"Maimane is facing an embarrassing moment if he proceeds with plans to visit Harare, same way he was embarrassed by being deported at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Zambia in 2017 after he dabbled in Zambian politics," the source said.

She added: "Government is keeping all options on the table. It may, or may not turn Mr Maimane back at the airport."

Source - ZOOMZimbabw