Former mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay and party chairman, Athol Trollip has announced that he is quitting the Democratic Alliance.
Trollip’s announcement followed the announcement by DA leader Mmusi Maimane that he would also be stepping down as leader and leaving the party.
Trollip said that his decision wasn’t easy, but came after a period of introspection.
The exit marks the third big loss of leadership by the DA this week after Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced his resignation on Monday.
Mashaba’s stated reasoning for leaving the DA was the re-election of Helen Zille into the upper echelon of the party after she won her bid to become federal chairperson of the party.
This, he said, was a victory for those in the party that stood opposed to the valued he stood for. These elements he reportedly referred to as “right-wing elements”.
In Maimane’s resignation address, he also referred to elements within the party that wanted to see him fail.
Trollip’s exit comes off the back of his loss against Zille for the role of federal chair. In his address, he stood behind Maimaine’s leadership, but also acknowledged some of the failings.
However, he said that this was not Maimane’s failing, but a collective failing, which he was prepared to take responsibility for.
He also criticised a recent internal review by a DA committee that made “over-reaching findings” against Maimane but said he still believes in the DA and its ideals.
“I said that there is a time to stay and a time to go in politics, and I think now it is time for me to go,” he said.
Speaking after the briefing, newly elected federal chair, Helen Zille, said the resignations came as a shock.
“I think it was a unanimous position by the federal executive that it would have preferred that both (Maimane and Trollip) would have waited until a federal congress was held, so the congress could have made the critical decisions about leadership,” she said.
“Nevertheless, Mmusi and Athol came to a conclusion that only they could reach after speaking to their families. It with much sadness that the federal executive understood, and stopped arguing, and accepted the decision they made.”
“We as the DA have a challenging road ahead,” Zille said.
In the event that a party leader steps down, the party chairperson is supposed to take over leadership until a new leader is selected.
However, as both the leader and the chairperson have stepped down at the same time, Zille said the party would seek legal advice on what action to take next.