South Africa: Maimane - There's Been a Consistent Attempt to Undermine My Leadership

Mmusi Maimane, left, announces his resignation as leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance. Behind him at the press conference are Helen Zille, the party's newly elected Federal Council Chairperson, centre, and Athol Trollip, who resigned as party chairperson on the same day.

After numerous delays and hours in waiting, the biggest body blow to hit the DA in recent times, its two senior leaders - Mmusi Maimane and federal chair Athol Trollip - resigned, leaving the party in disarray and deeply divided.

Following a marathon behind-closed-doors meeting that lasted well over seven hours, Maimane told a room crammed with journalists that the DA was no longer a vehicle to drive his vision of one South Africa for all.

"There comes a time when leaders must step back from all the noise and conjecture, and make a sober and honest assessment as to what the future holds. I have spent the past few days doing just that, alongside my wife.

"And in the end we have come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts, the DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building one South Africa for all."

Maimane said he would continue his role in Parliament, "if the party allows it".

Maimane and Trollip's departure comes on the heels of City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba announcing that he was quitting as a member of the party and the mayor of Johannesburg on Monday.

Newly elected federal council chair Helen Zille's election triggered these resignations and speculation is rife that further resignations from other party leaders are expected.

Maimane has been under severe pressure in recent months, with information about his private home and a vehicle donated by Steinhoff making it to the front pages of newspapers, which he claims were used to tarnish his name and undermine his leadership.

"However, over the past months, it has become quite clear to me that there exists a grouping within the DA who do not see eye to eye with me, and do not share this vision for the party and the direction it was taking. There has been for several months a consistent and coordinated attempt to undermine my leadership and ensure that either this project failed, or I failed.

"This extended to the smear campaign that was run on the front pages of an Afrikaans weekly paper in an attempt to destroy my name and my integrity. This cowardly behaviour has put my wife and two young children in great danger as pictures of our home were published in the media," Maimane said.

Maimane, who has been at the helm of the party for four years, also told the media that he would continue to serve South Africa and the vision that he has for the country.

Trollip, who also relayed his journey in the DA including his tenure as Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, said there were numerous highlights and very few low lights during his political career with the party.

"There is a time to go and time to stay. I realized that it was my time to go," Trollip said explaining that he had reflected over his role over the weekend.

While thanking the panel for the review report, Trollip who wasn't cited in it said he would also take collective responsibility for the lacklustre performance at the 2019 elections and the state of the organisation.

Two other senior leaders Paul Boughey and James Selfe had left their roles respectively as party CEO and federal council chair respectively.

He did, however, hit out at the panel review for being "unfair" on Maimane in its criticism of the leader's role at the helm of the party.

Trollip said the panel review - led by former leaders Tony Leon, Ryan Coetzee and Capitec founder Michiel le Roux - was unfair and had overreached in their criticism of Maimane.

He added: "I say we take collective responsibility, I must take responsibility."

Trollip also lauded Maimane, recalling the leader's 2015 speech that the DA was not a party for racists.

In replying to the two senior leaders, Zille paid salutations to them saying that she respected their decision in spite of it going against the resolutions taken by the federal council for Maimane not to step down but instead to go to an early conference.

Reflecting on the quagmire the DA finds itself in, Zille said ordinarily it was the federal chair who would take over the role once a leader stepped down.

However, seeing as they had both stepped down, she said the federal executive would have a telephone conference on Thursday to obtain legal advice on how the two vacant positions should be filled in the interim.

Zille added she understood the trauma the Maimane family had endured.

"Believe me I know what kind of trauma they've been through. Politics is a very, very difficult space."

Source: News24

More From: News24Wire

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