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'If Mmusi goes, I go' - DA federal chair Athol Trollip throws party into crisis

Athol Trollip
Image: Brian Witbooi

DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip is said to have thrown the DA into further turmoil when he offered to resign from his position on Wednesday in support of embattled party leader Mmusi Maimane.

This explains why a highly anticipated press conference at which Maimane was widely expected to announce his resignation was postponed twice on Wednesday for unexplained reasons.

According to well-placed sources in the DA, Trollip told the federal executive committee meeting in Johannesburg he was ready to step down along with Maimane.

Sources said the federal executive meeting, chaired by Helen Zille, had to continue longer than scheduled as the leaders were now forced to persuade the party's top office bearers to reconsider.

Maimane and Trollip are long-time political allies and the two are said to be unhappy about Zille's return to the DA's top leadership structures.

In terms of the DA's constitution, Trollip was next in line to take over the reins on an interim basis if Maimane had to go.

The Democratic Alliance was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday October 23 2019 as leader Mmusi Maimane and federal chair Athol Trollip stepped down from their respective positions in the party. This follows the resignation of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, who resigned on Monday October 21.

A source said the two men were asked to reconsider “and consult their families et al”.

“So we await their feedback,” said the source just before 5pm on Wednesday.

Three sources told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE around 4.30pm that Trollip had also resigned from the party.

Sources claim that the party's provincial leaders who are known to back Maimane were the ones begging the two leaders to withdraw their resignations.

A source at the meeting claimed that Maimane rejected the review report by former party strategist Ryan Coetzee and former party leader Tony Leon, claiming it was not a true reflection of what the panel found on the ground.

Maimane commissioned the report following the DA's poor performance in the May 8 general elections.

Mmusi Maimane resigned as the leader of the Democratic Alliance on Wednesday October 23 2019 after a relatively short time in charge. While his political future remains uncertain, we take a look back at his tenure at the DA.