Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg, has resigned from the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s party noted for its mainly white sympathisers and members.
Mashaba, who was elected to the mayoral office of South Africa’s biggest city, announced on Monday that he was leaving the party because of how officials deal with issues of race.
His election in 2016 was seen as a landmark in the history of the DA and South African relations.
But the BBC reports that at his press conference, Mashaba said he could not “reconcile myself with people who believe that race is not important in their discussion of inequalities.”
The mayor added that the re-admission of former party leader Helen Zille into the officialdom of the party was also factored into his decision.
Zille, a white woman, praised aspects of European colonialism in South Africa, tweeting in 2017, “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.”
According to the BBC, there is a growing sense among black members of the DA that the party may be reversing to its former days of white identity politics.
Mashaba says his agenda of tackling poverty and inequality as mayor has been “undermined, criticised and rendered nearly impossible” by his own party.