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Maimane & Zille's political 'romance': How it all came to an end

Mmusi Maimane resigned on Wednesday afternoon following the election of Helen Zille as the party’s federal council chair this past weekend and after Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba called it quits.

Mmusi Maimane seen on 20 October 2019 after Helen Zille was announced as the Democratic Alliance's new Federal Council chair. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Mmusi Maimane’s resignation marks a bitter end of a political 'romance' with Helen Zille.

Maimane resigned on Wednesday afternoon following the election of Zille as the party’s federal council chair this past weekend and after Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba called it quits.

It all started on a high, campaigning hand in hand on stages to woo black supporters.

Maimane was Zille’s protégé, having ascended to the position of DA leader in 2015 with her backing.

He was expected to continue her legacy and move the party from opposition benches to a party in government.

However, the political love affair quickly died, as Maimane emerged from the clasps of his mentor, finding his voice, especially on issues like economic policies.

They clashed over Zille’s praises of colonialism on social media, Maimane’s decision to have President Cyril Ramaphosa investigated by the Public Protector, the fallout with former Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and over Maimane’s views of white privilege.

Maimane won against Zille when the party punished her for her tweets on colonialism. She had to step down from all DA positions but remained the premier of the party’s jewel, the Western Cape.

WATCH: Helen Zille apologises for tweets on colonialism

Zille’s return to party politics after winning the position of Federal Council chairperson was seen as creating two centres of power.

Maimane’s departure has been likened to that of former leaders Lindiwe Mazibuko and De Lille, leaving many asking whether there is a ceiling for outspoken leaders in the DA.

WATCH: Patricia de Lille resigns as Cape Town Mayor