S.African ex-opposition leader quits political posts
The first black leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party renounced his party membership and seat in parliament Thursday, a day after quitting as party chief in a race row.
he first black leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party renounced his party membership and seat in parliament Thursday, a day after quitting as party chief in a race row.
Mmusi Maimane, 39, stood down as head of the Democratic Alliance (DA) citing “coordinated attacks” from parts of his traditionally white liberal party against affirmative action policies favourable to the black majority population.
In a tweet on Thursday, he further distanced himself from the DA, announcing he would leave parliament and relinquish the party membership that he first gained in 2009.
he DA was established in 2000 as a merger of three “white” parties that tried to distance themselves from their previously racist past.
he Soweto-born Maimane, who has been at the helm of the DA since 2015, produced a historic victory for the party in the 2016 local elections.
He then campaigned fiercely as the first black leader of the DA in the 2019 national election, trying to convince black middle-class voters that the party was no longer a “white” party, but suffered significant losses instead.
he party saw a two percent drop in votes and lost five of their previous 89 seats in parliament following the 2014 election.
he conservative and predominantly white Freedom Front Plus, founded in 1994 during the negotiations to end apartheid, performed unexpectedly well, picking up 10 seats — six more than in 2014.
ensions have been high ever since the May vote.
Over the past weekend the party resolved to elect Maimane’s outspoken predecessor, Helen Zille, to come back and occupy the powerful seat of federal council chairperson.
Maimane has in the past clashed with Zille over her praise for aspects of colonialism.
Speaking to journalists in Johannesburg, he said there were some in the party who did not share his vision and direction for a non-racial party.
Maimane quits the party in the same week that the DA’s Herman Mashaba resigned from it as well, and as mayor of Johannesburg, the country’s largest city.
Mashaba said he left because of the DA’s approach to racial inequality.
Race relations remain tense in Africa’s most industrialised nation 25 years after the fall of apartheid.