These are perilous times for South Africa’s principal opposition party. The Democratic Alliance should be exploiting the divisions in the ruling African National Congress which are restricting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s capacity to deliver meaningful change.
Instead, it has descended into crippling internecine warfare. In October 2019, this produced the resignations of Mmusi Maimane, elected in 2015 as the alliance’s first black leader, Athol Trollip, the federal chairman, and Herman Mashaba, the alliance’s mayor of Johannesburg. It may yet end with the demise of the party, at least in its existing form.
Opposition politics can often seem a sideshow in a dominant-party system such as South Africa’s, but this is a development with important implications for the health of its democracy.