Mmusi Maimane has resigned as the leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, becoming the second black leader to quit the historically white Democratic Alliance (DA) party.
Soweto-born Maimane cited difficulties making the DA, a traditionally white liberal party – appeal to majority black voters.
“It is with great sadness that in order to continue this fight for the vision I strongly believe and the country I so dearly love, I will today step down as leader of the DA,” Maimane, told journalists in Johannesburg.
“Over the past few months it has become more and more clear to me that there exists those in the DA who do not see eye-to-eye with me, who do not share the vision for the party and the direction it was taking,” he said.
“There have been several months of consistent and coordinated attacks on me and my leadership, to ensure that this project failed or I failed,” he added.
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Maimane was elected as the leader of the DA in 2015, making him the first black person to head the party.
Political analyst Prince Mashele said the resignations signal a backward step for the party.
“The DA is going back to its original self, which is a party of white people, focusing on the interests of white, and nothing else,” Mashele said. “I have no doubt that now that Mmusi is gone we will see an exodus of black leaders and members who will leave the party.”
The resignation comes just three days after DA’s Herman Mashaba announced his resignation from the party and as the mayor of Johannesburg – the country’s biggest city.
Mashaba said he quit the party over its approach to racial inquality.
“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,” Mashaba told a news conference in Johannesburg on Monday.
Mashaba was elected into office in 2016 becoming the city’s first mayor not from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) since apartheid ended in 1994.