Mmusi Maimane resigns as the leader of the Democratic Alliance

mmusi maimane da flickr

Update: Mmusi Maimane has since resigned from the DA entirely. Read the full story here.

Mmusi Maimane has resigned as the leader of South Africa’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The news was announced at a press conference on Wednesday in Johannesburg by Maimane himself after a lengthy delay.

When he did finally take to the podium draped in black (nearly five hours later), he was flanked by the party’s federal executive.

Maimane resigns

He noted that as leader he tried to build an inclusive party “that all South Africans could call home”.

“I’m not a career politician,” he added.

He also spoke of the party’s growth during his tenure, and the “trust” built between the country and the party.

“Along the journey we made some tough decisions, we fought long battles,” he noted, “even with Helen Zille.”

Maimane added that it had however become increasingly difficult to realise his vision within the party in recent weeks.

“It is with great sadness […] that today I will step down as the leader of DA.”

Athol Trollip, the federal chairperson of the DA, also announced his resignation from his position at Wednesday’s press conference.

The beginning of the end

Maimane became the leader of the DA in May 2015, gaining that title from former Western Cape premier and newly-elected federal council chair, Helen Zille.

On Monday, Herman Mashaba also announced that he would resign from the DA and his role as the Mayor of Johannesburg citing Zille’s recent political revival as a key issue.

Trollip stated back in May that Maimane would not be unseated but instead remain at the helm of the party until 2021.

However, nearly five tumultuous months later, it seems that Maimane, and Trollip for that matter, has other ideas.

Twitter reacts with disappointment, speculation and memes

#MmusiMaimane began trending on Twitter in South Africa well before his press conference, as locals pondered the state of the opposition party.

Some believed the news marked a “sad moment” for the country.

Some felt that a political “reset” is required, and Maimane’s departure gives him that opportunity.

Others highlighted the Zille connection, or the “common denominator”.

Others, well, Twitter oracles at least, foresaw some former DA member cooperation in the future.

Where to now for the DA?

Maimane also thanked the DA staff, wished the party well, and especially Helen Zille in her new political role.

He also confirmed that he is “not stepping away from politics”.

It’s unclear who will fill Maimane’s role as the leader of the party, especially since Trollip — who would’ve assumed his position — has also called it quits.

However, Maimane will remain the leader of the opposition party in Parliament at least until the end of the year.

He has also not resigned from the party itself.

This is a developing story…

Feature image: Mmusi Maimane in 2011, by The Democratic Alliance via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0, cropped)

Andy Walker
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