PARLIAMENT, October 24 – Mmusi Maimane on Thursday resigned as a member of the Democratic Alliance, as an MP and its parliamentary leader, a day after quitting as leader of the official opposition party.
Maimane announced his resignation from all party structures on Twitter and a senior member of the party confirmed the move.
He resigned after four years at the helm of the DA, saying on Wednesday he was no longer convinced that it was the best vehicle for realising his vision of a united and reconciled South Africa.
In a double blow for the party, Athol Trollip also quit his post of federal chairman.
There have been rumblings for months about Maimane’s future in the DA following the party’s poor showing in the May national elections. It shed 1.5 percent of its voter support.
But Maimane took the plunge after his former mentor and predecessor as DA leader, Helen Zille, returned from political retirement at the weekend to take up the key position of chairwoman of the party’s federal council.
The departure of both Maimane and Trollip has left the DA without a leader as, in terms of its rules, the federal chairperson would step into the breach if the party leader resigns. With both gone, Zille said the DA was consulting lawyers on how to proceed to fill Maimane’s shoes until the party could formally elect a new leader.
On Wednesday, Maimane had said there was a sustained effort from a faction within the party to undermine him.
He also aimed a swipe at Zille, saying though their mutual respect remained intact, she had damaged the party with her controversial remarks in 2016 on the legacy of colonialism.
But his opponents within the party have quietly said for months that Maimane had failed to broaden the party’s support base and shown himself to be weak on policy matters, and should, therefore, take the fall for its disappointing performance in the elections.
As a result of Maimane stepping down as parliamentary leader, the DA’s well-liked chief whip John Steenhuisen lost his post because the chief whip is appointed by the parliamentary leader.
Steenhuisen told the African News Agency (ANA) he was staying on as a “committed MP”.
He said the party’s federal council would meet within the coming days to elect an interim leadership, to steer the party towards an elective conference next year.
– African News Agency (ANA)