Politics, Africa

South Africa: 1st black leader of main opposition quits

This is 2nd high profile resignation in past days

Hassan Isilow   | 23.10.2019
South Africa: 1st black leader of main opposition quits

JOHANNESBURG 

The first black leader of South Africa’s opposition party resigned Wednesday citing internal conflicts.

"There have been several months of consistent and coordinated attacks on me and my leadership to ensure that this project failed or I failed," Mmusi Maimane said, announcing his resignation from the Democratic Alliance (DA).

He claimed some people within the party had run a coordinated campaign in the Afrikaans language newspapers in an attempt to undermine his name and integrity.

"This cowardly behavior has put my wife and our kids in great danger as I watched often in disgust the pictures of our homes being published in the media and dangers that went with that," he said.

Maimane, 39, was elected in 2015 the party’s first ever black president replacing Helen Zille.

He defeated party chairman Wilmot James at the time for the top job during the party's elective conference held in Port Elizabeth, one of the largest cities in South Africa.

The DA, which has for long been viewed as a white party, has been increasing the number of its black representatives in the past five years, thus increasing its appeal among black voters.

However, last week’s decision by the DA's Federal Council, the highest decision making body, to elect former party leader Zille its new chairperson has infuriated many black representatives within the party.

Zille provoked widespread outrage in South Africa in 2017, when she sent out a tweet praising some aspects of colonialism falling out with Maimane, whom she had handpicked as a successor.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba who was also the party’s first black mayor resigned on Monday, saying his party DA no longer represents his beliefs and what he desires for the residents of the city and country.

"The DA no longer represents a party that is able to achieve what I desire most, a movement that can save South Africa, unseat the African National Congress [South Africa's ruling party] and deliver One South Africa for all," Mashaba said at a media briefing.

The mayor, who has served for three years and still had about 12 months to complete his term, said he was gravely concerned that the DA he signed up to is no longer the party that has emerged out of last weekend’s Federal Council meeting.

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