Jean-Jacques Cornish

South African opposition party elects first black leader

A 34-year-old Soweto –born lay preacher has been elected as the first black leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party.

Mmusi Maimane says he may have to give up his ministrations from the pulpit now he has taken on this job of growing the Democratic Alliance which is dishonestly dismissed by the ruling African National Congress as a white party.
Mmusi Maimane will retain the parliamentary leadership of the Democratic Alliance where he earned his spurs confronting President Jacob Zuma.

His first task will be to raise funds for the DA to contest next year’s municipal elections which will be his first acid test as leader.

The DA controls the Western Cape and runs a close second to the ANC in the heartland province of Gauteng.

Maimane says in his inaugural speech at the congress in Port Elizabeth that he leads a party that espouses the principals and diversity cherished by the last Nelson Mandela.

He’s adamant there’s no place for racism and division in the DA.

There will be place for black veteran Wilmot James who opposed him for the post vacated by Helen Zille who led the party for eight years and retains the Western Cape provincial leadership.

Tony Leon, who was DA leader before Zille says Maimane will have to adopt strategies to continue the growth the party that stresses service above the acquisition of private wealth.


Enquire about availability for radio, podcasts, reporting or opinion pieces.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.