Zille to quit as DA boss in May

Helen Zille says she is stepping down as DA leader. She will not be contesting the party's elections in May.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, along with DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane addressed the media after the Democratic Alliance walked out of Parliament. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has announced she is stepping down as the party's leader.

Zille made the announcement at a press briefing at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

She says she will not be contesting the party's federal congress elections in May.

The DA leader has also announced that she will remain premier of the Western Cape until her term ends in 2019.

Zille said, "I had to decide whether to stand again as DA leader on 9 May. I have led the DA for eight years. In the last few years I have asked myself whether the party would benefit from fresh blood. I have wondered if I should stay for another 2 years. Maybe May is slightly early, I also believe that 2017 will be too late."

She said that she believes this is in the best interest of the party and South Africa.

Zille added that she's not the only face of the party.

"Voters do get attached to leaders, but they are much more attached to the party."

The party has been inundated with questions whether the party is ready for a black leader to take the party forward.

It's unclear at this stage who will be contesting for her job next month.

To read Zille's full statement, click here.

Meanwhile, people have reacted with mixed feelings to the news on Twitter:

Our country is in debt to @helenzille. She has served honourably, no-one could ever accuse her of improper benefit from public money.

@helenzille had huge impact on DA: made it softer, more electable, discarded some NP remnants, shifted policy from right to centre.

BS aside. She has her drama, but I would be very disappointed if Helen Zille resigned. She is the most powerful woman in SA politics.

Wow so there we have it. Helen Zille will not make herself available for re-election. Will this allow the DA to finally transform?

Everyone going on about DA needing a "much younger leader". Let's not forget Zille is almost a decade younger than the leader of the ANC

Okay Capetonians, breathe easy... Zille will complete her term as Western Cape premier. The colony is safe for now...