Herman Mashaba. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Herman Mashaba. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Herman Mashaba has resigned as Johannesburg mayor, following the election of Helen Zille as the DA's new federal council chair.

“It is for this reason that I have called this media conference today to announce my resignation from the DA effective November 27,” Mashaba said on Monday morning.

“It is on the request of the party leadership that my resignation is held off until this date to afford them the opportunity to identify a new candidate.”

Mashaba, before announcing his resignation, said he was “gravely concerned” that the DA he joined was no longer the same party that emerged from this federal council.

“The election of Helen Zille is a victory for people who stand diametrically against my belief systems,” he said.

“I have spent the past three years in government. The events this past weekend have left me at a crossroads where I can no longer be in the DA. I am in the position where I am forced to choose between my party and my country.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Gauteng leader John Moodey were present at the briefing.  

Mashaba’s office released a media advisory on Sunday afternoon, mere hours after Zille's election, to say that he would address the media following the outcome of the party’s federal council meeting.

Mashaba had been critical in the lead-up to the meeting at the weekend, saying he would resign if “right-wing elements” took over the party. He also penned an opinion piece on News24, asking whether the liberal think-tank Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was to the DA what the controversial Gupta family was to the ANC.

The Gupta family were at the heart of allegations of state capture during former president Jacob Zuma’s term in office. Zille recently worked for the IRR, but suspended her fellowship with the organisation when she decided to stand for the federal council chair position.

Meetings took place between Mashaba and DA officials at the weekend. A meeting on Sunday evening, at which Maimane was said to have been present, was a last-ditch attempt to sway the mayor from resigning. Mashaba is known to be set on decisions when he takes them.

The meeting on Sunday followed another on Saturday evening with a group of Gauteng leaders ahead of the voting at the federal council meeting, where Zille was elected.

Johannesburg is a better place

Maimane said: “Today is a difficult day. It's a difficult day for  the people in Johannesburg. There can be no doubt Johannesburg is a better place today then it was under the ANC,” he said.

Maimane said he met Mashaba a number of years ago and considered him a friend and a comrade.

The DA leader said Mashaba's resignation would be discussed by the party at the federal executive meeting.

“The events that have taken place over the past number of days were democratic. I respect Herman Mashaba's decision and note the communication that he has done. I came and met with Mashaba to discuss the decision. It will be my view that I would have wanted him to finish the term,” Maimane said.

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