Zille won't take the blame for Mashaba's exit

DA leader Mmusi Maimane holds hands with Herman Mashaba after the latter's resignation as Joburg mayor and DA member yesterday.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane holds hands with Herman Mashaba after the latter's resignation as Joburg mayor and DA member yesterday.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Helen Zille has hit back at the outgoing Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba for blaming her for his decision to quit.

Announcing his resignation from both the DA and the city yesterday, Mashaba said Zille's ascendance to the DA's second most powerful position of Federal Council chairperson meant the party that he once believed in would no longer be for pro-black and pro-poor.

He was speaking at a press briefing attended by DA leader Mmusi Maimane who held his hand and described him as "a hero to me".

Mashaba said he was concerned that Zille's victory placed in power people who were against the coalition agreement he had with minority parties as well the EFF and that he was jumping ship before they remove him.

Zille described this notion as "crazy" insisting she had no powers to remove Mashaba.

Herman Mashaba has resigned as the mayor of Johannesburg on October 21 2019. His resignation comes after former DA leader Helen Zille was elected as the party's new federal council chairperson.

"I think he is seeing spooks," she said. "He has never spoken to me about his concerns. I was the leader when he joined the party. He strongly shared my values and vision for the future of the country then, he was to the right of me on economic policy so I do not know what has changed. I certainly believe in the same things he believed in then."

She said the only people with the power to remove Mashaba are the city council.

"However, now he has removed himself, so he can hardly blame me," said Zille

"He must have had a memory lapse about the DA's constitution. I have absolutely no power at all to crush any coalition government, or any government for that matter."

Mashaba's resignation would top the DA's Wednesday federal executive meeting agenda where the party would decide on his replacement.

The mayor said it was not in his nature to wait for people to push him and he has lived his life on his own terms.

"With this grouping of people succeeding in their effort to take over the DA, I have no doubt whatsoever that they will move to collapse these governance arrangements," said Mashaba.

"From the very first day that I took office this coalition arrangement has been undermined, criticised and rendered nearly impossible, in every way. The DA has been the most difficult coalition partner in this arrangement."

His resignation put the DA in a tailspin after he accused the party of not wanting to have a conversation around poverty and equality.

"Despite this, 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 the end of apartheid," he said.

"I have had to deal with individuals who would rather I spent more time on cutting grass than on fixing our broken and aged infrastructure, which threatens disaster in our city."

Herman Mashaba resigned from his post as Johannesburg mayor on October 21 2019. He listed unhappiness with the direction of the DA as a major factor for his departure. This leaves an uncertain future for the coalition in the city. Sunday Times political reporter Zingisa Mvumvu reports.

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