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Maimane, James in mudslinging battle

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Two days after a widely publicised television debate between the DA’s leadership candidates, the mudslinging began in earnest on Wednesday.

This followed an interview with Wilmot James in The Star newspaper.

Mmusi Maimane’s campaign manager Geordin Hill-Lewis felt there were a number of remarks made which could not go “unchallenged”.

During the interview, James reportedly said that Maimane was offering another version of the ANC, while he – James – was offering an alternative to the ruling party.

This prompted Hill-Lewis to “unpack” James’s political history in a statement posted on Politicsweb.

“In 2010, one year into his first term as a DA MP, James told an interviewer that he would vote for the ANC if Trevor Manuel were its President…” Hill-Lewis claimed.

“Indeed, James worked closely with the ANC throughout the 1990s and would later describe himself in an interview as an ANC sympathiser during those years.”

He said James had an interesting political history, as he was involved with the Black Consciousness Movement for a couple of years in the 1970s, the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the 80s and was an ANC sympathiser in the 90s.

“He was never a member of the Democratic Party, or any of its predecessor parties, and only joined the DA in August 2008 – a few months before he became a Member of Parliament.

“Perhaps this is why James’ claim to be a ‘liberal stalwart’ rings rather hollow,” Hill-Lewis said.

He also took James on about his views on Black Economic Empowerment and the National Development Plan.

But then James hit back at the Maimane camp, pointing out it had promised to run a “positive campaign”.

“Under pressure after losing the leadership debate on Kyknet, Mmusi Maimane’s campaign has finally gone negative,” James said in a statement.

“This represents a major about-turn in Mmusi Maimane’s campaign strategy, which, up to this point, has been positive.”

James took a swipe at Maimane, accusing him of using Hill-Lewis as a proxy to write the statement.

“If Mmusi Maimane has something to say about this issue, then he should have the courage to say it himself, rather than hiding behind a proxy.

“I will not be distracted and will continue to share my vision for our party with delegates in the run-up to the DA’s federal congress,” said James. News24

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