Herman Mashaba has announced his resignation as Johannesburg mayor, saying the election of Helen Zille as the party’s federal chairperson has marked the beginning of the end for the coalition government in the city and the pro-poor stance which he has championed in it.
In a press briefing in Johannesburg on Monday, Mashaba said that Zille’s election to the top leadership structure of the DA over the weekend was a victory for people inside the [party] who were “opposed” to his ideas.
“I am gravely concerned that the DA I signed up to is no longer the DA that has emerged out of this weekend’s Federal Council,” said Mashaba.
“I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believe that race is irrelevant in the discussion of inequality and poverty in 2019,” he said. “I cannot reconcile myself with people who cannot see that South Africa is more unequal today than it was in 1994.”
Mashaba previously mentioned that he would resign if “right-wing elements” took over the party.
Mashaba will remain in office until November 27 to allow the party to identify a new leader.
Mashaba was elected as mayor of Johannesburg in 2016 after the local elections resulted in a hung council where no party had enough seats to claim an outright majority.
With a 38% victory, the DA entered into a coalition government with other minor parties most significantly, a cooperation agreement with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in order to secure the administration of the city.
The cooperation between Mashaba and the EFF has received criticism by some within the party with a review panel recommending that the DA review its relationship with the red berets.
On Monday Mashaba described how, over the past three years, the DA had been “the most difficult coalition partner in this arrangement”.
“From the very first day that I took office, this coalition arrangement has been undermined, criticised and rendered nearly impossible,” he said, explaining that the party was opposed to his consultative approach wanting him to rule “arrogantly” as if it had won an outright majority.
DA not pro-poor
Mashaba said that the people who emerged triumphant at the party’s Federal Council meeting on Sunday are the same people who he has faced significant resistance from when he moved to implement the insourcing plan which saw over 7 000 cleaners and security guards benefit.
He added that he had no doubt that these individuals would collapse the governance arrangements that he has entered into with the cooperative government in the city, particularly because of the “pro-poor agenda” that has been executed.
“Some members of the DA caucus in Johannesburg have suggested that we prioritise the needs of suburban residents above providing dignity to those forgotten people who remain without basic services 25 years after Apartheid,” said Mashaba.
“I have had to deal with individuals who would rather spend more time on cutting grass than on fixing our broken and aged infrastructure,” he continued.
Mashaba said the events of the weekend had forced him to make a choice between the DA and the country.
He made it clear that he did not come to the decision lightly saying he “could not be a willing participant, in good conscience, in a process that is placing the narrow internal interests of a political party ahead of the needs of the residents of the city”.
Mashaba a ‘hero’
DA leader Mmusi Maimane stood alongside Mashaba on Monday calling him a “hero”.
Maimane made it clear that he, as the leader of the DA, has always supported the coalition arrangements in Johannesburg.
“I want to thank you not only as a resident of Johannesburg but I want to thank you as a fellow South African for always driving the ambition to serve our country and our people,” said Mashaba.
“You are a hero to me,” he added.
Zille told EWN that she does not know why Mashaba would resign over her appointment especially given her struggle credentials.
“Herman knows very well that I was hiding uMkhonto We Sizwe operatives in my house when he was a businessman making many billions out of hair straighteners and things,” she said.