The Mayor of South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg and a member of the Democratic Alliance (DA) has resigned over what he described as his party’s “white approach” in handling racial issues, ABC News can report.
Herman Mashaba, who has also quit the DA party, said his decision was sparked by the re-admission of Helen Zille, a white politician who provoked widespread anger in 2017 when she praised aspects of colonialism, to the party’s high ranks.
“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,” he told journalists at a news conference in Johannesburg Monday.
On the issue of Helen Zille, Mashaba said, “the election of Zille as chair of the federal council is a victory for people who are opposed to my belief systems.”
The DA is long considered a party for middle-class white people. However, the election of a black mayor from the DA was seen as a sign that the party could potentially threaten the ruling ANC’s grip on power at the national level.
The exit of Mashaba, according to some analysts, suggests that the liberal, multi-racial party is going back to its roots of being an all-white organisation.
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.
The 60-year-old millionaire, who made his fortune in black hair products, was one of the most senior politicians in the pro-business DA.
In a statement, the DA said Mashaba’s resignation “does not signal an end to our commitment to the people of Johannesburg and South Africa”.
“We will build a capable state, fight for non-racialism, and push for economic redress and inclusion and respect for the rule of law,” the statement added.