Mmusi Maimane, The First Black Leader of South Africa's Biggest Opposition Party, Resigns
It's been resignation after resignation as the Democratic Alliance (DA) collapses into itself.
For about four years, Mmusi Maimane was the leader of South Africa's biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Maimane took over from the party's former leader, Helen Zille, back in 2015 and became the party's first Black leader. However, he resigned from the party as well as parliament yesterday afternoon. His second-in-command and federal chairperson, Athol Trollip, also stepped down on the same day. The resignations of the party's top leaders come just three days after its Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, resigned.
There are several important issues that need to be highlighted in order to understand what is currently happening within the DA. After Zille was elected mayor of Cape Town back in 2006, she assumed leadership of the DA the following year. Following the 2009 elections which saw the opposition party capturing the majority of the Western Cape province and ousting the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Zille became the premier of the province. However, she handed over the reigns to Maimane in 2015 although she was still an active part of the decision-making structures of the party—a move that left many South Africans feeling that Maimane was simply the "Black face" of the political party long perceived to be a party invested in the interests of White people.
In 2017 and then again in 2019, Zille rocked social media when she tweeted in support of what she termed the "benefits of colonialism". The DA's Federal Council, the structure that oversees the day-to-day affairs of the party, took disciplinary action against her and subsequently asked her to relinquish her decision-making powers. While Zille remained the premier of the Western Cape till May of this year, tensions between her and Maimane have been mounting. More recently, and what has largely triggered the consecutive resignations, is ZIlle having been elected the new chairperson of the Federal Council over Trollip. Effectively, Zille is back at the helm of the party and is admittedly the ultimate comeback queen of 2019.
The DA is reportedly seeking legal advice to address the leadership vacuum. While Zille initially wished both Trollip and Maimane well at the press conference held yesterday afternoon, she then went onto social media and branded Maimane a "coward".