At a press conference at the Johannesburg city council on Monday morning, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced his resignation, effective on November 27.
Mashaba said he had no “political aspirations” when he was approached to run for the mayorship.
“I deeply regret that the DA I signed up to is the one which emerged from this weekend’s meeting.
“The election of Zille stands in opposition with the people I represent and the majority of the South Africans,” he said.
He accused his own party of being the “most difficult” partner in his coalition government in Johannesburg.
The mayor said some in his coalition “would rather spend time cutting grass than fixing infrastructure”.
He expressed disappointment at some in his party failing to get behind him on the insourcing of workers.
The collapse of the Johannesburg government was a “foregone conclusion”, he added.
He said that, from his first day in office, the coalition arrangement in the city had been “undermined, criticised and rendered nearly impossible”.
“Despite the fact that coalitions survive on consultation, shared programmes and recognising the contributions of each member, the DA has criticised and questioned my approach. Despite the DA only winning 38% of the vote in 2016, elements in the party have expected me to govern arrogantly as if I have an outright majority.”
Mashaba added that, during his tenure, he was forced to deal with DA members who drew artificial distinctions between service delivery in informal settlements and suburbs as a binary.
“I have had to deal with individuals who would rather I spent more time cutting grass than on fixing our broken and aged infrastructure which threatened disaster in our city,” he added.
Mashaba, who anticipated that he would be pushed out by the party, said he would hold off on his resignation as mayor until November 27 for the DA to identify a new candidate.
The 1959 committee, otherwise known as the “pure liberals”, emerged victorious during the DA’s two-day federal council meeting.
In battling to chart its way and its message to South Africans, the party has struggled to define itself, with some wanting it to remain pure and orthodox and others arguing that it should be about embracing and rallying around shared values.
A report party leader Mmusi Maimane commissioned to review its losses during the May general elections proved damning for him.
Maimane was found to be inconsistent and indecisive by the panel, chaired by former party leader Tony Leon.
The review panel also questioned the DA’s decision to go into an informal partnership with the EFF.
The EFF and Mashaba have had a seamless relationship with EFF leader Julius Malema going so far as to say that he would beg Mashaba to stay on as mayor.
However, the panel said forming governments with the EFF’s support in Johannesburg and Tshwane was a mistake.
“I maintain that coalitions are the future of South African politics. For a political party to back away from such arrangements 18 months before local government elections, that will invariably produce more coalitions, is tantamount to declaring itself to be unsuitable for the future,” Mashaba said.
Mashaba had earlier threatened to leave the party if “right-wing elements” took over, in what was likely a reference to Helen Zille, who was running for the role of federal chairperson and has since been elected.
Just hours after Zille’s election as the new DA federal council chairperson, it was clear Mashaba planned to follow through on his promise to step down if the DA was taken over by “right-wing elements”, three party sources told News24 earlier on Sunday.
Two provincial leaders and one national leader told News24 Mashaba was going to announce a resignation from his mayorship, following a media release by the City of Johannesburg that he was set to make an announcement on Monday morning.
“He is a man of his words,” said one national leader.
Mashaba has been the first non-ANC mayor of the city since democracy.
Read the full statement below:
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman and Charles Cilliers. Additional reporting, Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni and News24 Wire.)