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South Africa's opposition searches for new DA leader

South Africa's opposition searches for new DA leader

South Africa

South Africa’s opposition leader, Mmusi Maimane on Thursday quit the Democratic Alliance party and resigned his parliamentary seat, one day after he had stepped down as leader of the country’s biggest opposition party.

The announcement posted on his official Twitter account, deepens the party’s leadership vacuum, after its chairman, president and parliamentary chief whip quit in less than a week.

‘‘I have worked tirelessly to build the project of One SA for All. It’s been my greatest honour to serve the people of SA and will continue to do so. I have today resigned from the DA and Parliament,’‘ read part of Maimane’s tweet.

In this article, we will explore how the current crisis unfolded following the party’s electoral losses in May.

  • Timeline of DA crisis
  • Search for new leaders
  • What next for DA?
  • Reactions to DA crisis
  • DA parliament chief whip resigns
  • Maimane quits party, parliament
  • DA chairman quits party
  • Maimane steps down as DA leader
  • Johannesburg mayor resigns, quits party
  • The return of Hellen Zille
  • Maimane’s leadership questioned

Timeline of DA crisis

October 20: Hellen Zille elected chair of party’s Federal Council
October 21: Herman Mashaba resigns as Johannesburg mayor, quits party
October 23: Mmusi Maimane steps down as party leader
October 23: party chair Athol Trollip resigns, quits DA
October 24: Maimane quits party, resigns from parliament
October 24: DA parliament chief whip John Steenhuisen resigns

  • October 27: DA elects John Steenhuisen as new parliamentary leader

The search for new DA leaders

Several leaders are being considered to replace Mmusi Maimane as the leader of the Democratic Alliance party, including ex-chief whip John Steenhuisen and Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.

Steenhuisen, who was on Sunday elected the new parliamentary leader of the DA, availed himself for the role the next day.

The DA’s Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela is also being considered for the role, but said he preferred to continue his current work in the party’s stronghold region.

“I still believe that I have unfinished business in the province but some of the people feel very strongly that they will be nominating me and I can’t stand in the way of the people who will be nominating me.”

The DA’s federal council will meet to elect new leaders after Maimane resigned from leadership, Parliament and the party last week.

What next for DA?

The party’s federal council is meeting on Thursday to discuss how to manage the crisis.

Zille on Wednesday indicated that they were taking legal advice on how to fill the leadership position, since the constitutional provision for the party chair to replace the party leader was not possible in this case.

The parliamentary leadership positions including that of chief whip also have to be filled.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, whose party made gains in the May elections at the expense of the DA, believes South Africa’s main opposition party may split.

Groenewald’s is the party most likely to gain from DA’s crisis, with most of its newfound support believed to have originated from disenchanted traditional DA voters.

‘‘In political terms, we always say the party is going to start bleeding, up until its death…in the end, the Democratic Alliance may split to form other new political parties,’‘ Groenewald said.

Reactions to DA crisis

Hellen Zille who was party leader before Maimane and is now federal chair said on Wednesday she was shocked by the resignations of the party leader and chair.

‘‘I am deeply moved by the commitment that both Mmusi and Athol have shown to the values and mission that we all share of ‘One South Africa’,’‘ Zille said.

Zille said the council would have preferred that both leaders maintain their positions until a party congress would be held in April next year.

DA parliament chief whip resigns

The party’s chief whip in parliament, John Steenhuisen said on Thursday his term of office was effectively ended by Maimane’s resignation.

‘‘The chief whip is appointed by the leader. Since he announced his resignation from Parliament, my term ends,’‘ Steenhuisen told local Eyewitness News.

Steenhuisen who had served as chief whip since May 2014, explained on his Twitter account that he is still ‘ a determined member of the party’

Let me be clear: I have NOT resigned from the Our_DA or Parliament. The Leader of the party appoints the Chief Whip. With Mmusi’s resignation from Parliament my term as Chief Whip ends. I remain a committed and determined member of the party and cause.

— John Steenhuisen MP (jsteenhuisen) October 24, 2019

Maimane quits party, parliament

One day after he stepped down as party leader, Maimane announced that was resigning from parliament and quitting the Democratic Alliance altogether. He had served as leader of opposition in parliament since May 2014.

DA chairman quits party

At the same press conference on Wednesday, party chairman Athol Trollip announced he was resigning from his position and the party.

‘‘There’s a time to come and a time to go in politics. And I realised it this weekend, that it was probably my time to go. And I am happy to accept that,’‘ Trollip said as he announced that he was quitting politics.

Trollip had served as chair since May 2015, and has previously been leader of opposition and may of Nelson Mandela Bay in his long political career.

Maimane steps down as DA leader

Saying he no longer believed the DA was the best organisation to achieve the dream of a united, non-racial South Africa, Maimane announced on Wednesday that he was stepping down as party leader.

He said he hoped to remain in his position as leader of opposition in parliament until December, when a congress should be called to decide leadership questions.

READ MORE: South Africa’s main opposition leader resigns amid race rowJohannesburg mayor resigns, quits party

On Monday, the party’s mayor in Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba resigned from his position and the Democratic Alliance.

‘‘the DA no longer represents the party that is able to achieve what I desire most, a movement that can deliver one South Africa for all,’‘ Mashaba explained.

‘‘The election of Hellen Zille represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system. I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa.’‘

I’ve noted speculation about my political future. I’d like to clarify that while I respect political parties I’ve worked in JHB, I won’t be joining any political party. My interest is to serve the residents of Joburg to the best of my abilities until 27 Nov & then get some rest.

— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) October 22, 2019

The return of Hellen Zille

Hellen Zille was on Sunday elected chair of the Democratic Alliance Federal Council, beating Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Thomas Walters to the role.

Her election immediately raised questions over the Maimane’s future as party leader, since the two had fallen out over the Zille’s controversial tweets on colonialism.

Maimane’s leadership questioned

The Democratic Alliance had a dismal showing at the May polls, accumulating 3 621 188 votes or 20.77%, a decline from its 22% in 2014.

A review report into the May electoral losses was presented on Saturday, making findings and recommendations on the party’s leadership.

READ MORE: A Review of South Africa’s 6th national polls

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