Mmusi Maimane has resigned as the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Maimane’s resignation comes two days after Herman Mashaba announced his resignation from the party and subsequently as Johannesburg mayor.
Mashaba’s resignation has already placed the DA’s position on coalitions at risk and Maimane’s resignation could make matters worse.
Athol Trollip also confirmed his resignation from the party and exit from politics.
Maimane has had the shortest reign as leader of the DA, resigning just four years after taking over.
He made history when he became the first black leader of the party as well as the youngest.
It was a meteoric rise to the helm of the country’s biggest opposition party when Maimane was elected leader of the DA in 2015.
While his elevation to the position was praised, some insiders argued it was not deserved but rather that he was anointed by his predecessor Helen Zille.
Maimane was part of a group of young black members who left the ANC disgruntled. Young, ambitious and articulate – he impressed Zille almost immediately.
With the support of top leaders, he won hearts inside the DA. He triumphed in the race to be a mayoral candidate in 2011 and Gauteng premier in 2014, although he lost both to ANC candidates.
The former pastor is credited with helping to grow the party’s popularity among black voters.
He campaigned hand-in-hand with Zille – in South African townships, drawing crowds of mostly voters angry with the ANC’s empty promises and internal battles.
After his 2015 win as leader, he was dubbed the “Obama of Soweto” for his impassioned speeches on diversity.
But he quickly lost favour within the party after he started advocating for diversity and race-based policies in the organisation.
The question now is: does his departure from the party he has called home for so many years mark the end of his political career or the beginning of his reinvention as a politician without the blue machine?
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