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South African opposition in crisis as ex-leader quits as MP

Leader of South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane

The former leader of South Africa’s official opposition Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, gave up his seat in parliament on Thursday after quitting the national leadership and plunging the traditionally white liberal party into crisis.

Race and class remain highly divisive issues in South Africa, where the ruling African National Congress has been in power since the end of white minority apartheid rule in 1994.

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Maimane had been expected to remain as parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) until the end of the year.

Some are concerned that his resignation could precipitate an exodus of more black DA lawmakers and hurt the party ahead of 2021 municipal elections.

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“I have today resigned from the DA and parliament,” Maimane said in a tweet on Thursday.

On Wednesday he resigned as head of the party, the second high-profile black leader to quit this week, citing difficulties making the party appeal to majority black voters.