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Herman Mashaba was mayor of Johannesburg for three years. Courtesy photo

Herman Mashaba Johannesburg's Black Mayor Resigns over DA Race Row

posted onOctober 21, 2019


One of the most senior politicians in South Africa's historically white main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has resigned his post and quit the party over how it handles race.

Herman Masaba was mayor of Johannesburg for three years. The election of a black mayor from the DA was seen as a sign the party could potentially threaten the ruling ANC's grip on power at national level. But at a press conference on Monday Mr Masaba said: "I cannot reconcile myself with people who believe that race is not important in their discussion of inequalities."

He 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: "The election of [Helen] Zille as chair of federal council is victory for people who are opposed to my belief systems."

Black leaders within the DA believe that the liberal, multi-racial party is going back to its roots of being an all-white organisation, the BBC's Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg reports. Mr Mashaba also said the government's "pro-poor agenda" has been "undermined, criticised and rendered nearly impossible" by the DA.

As the first non-ANC (African National Congress) mayor of South Africa's biggest city since the end of white minority rule in 1994, Mr Mashaba's election victory in 2016 signalled a major success for the DA. Self-made businessman Mr Mashaba was seen as a key ally of the party's first black leader, Mmusi Msimane, in his efforts to increase support among black voters.

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