By Milton Nkosi |BBC Africa|
The resignation of Mmusi Maimane as a member of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) shows that the party is in deep crisis.
He resigned on Wednesday as the DA’s first black leader, but said he would remain a party MP. Less than 24 hours later, he has stepped down from parliament as well.
There is mounting speculation that there will be more resignations.
The DA’s chief whip in the National assembly John Steenhuisen has already said that he will not stay in his current position in the chamber.
The nucleus of this almost inevitable split stems from the politics of race.
The libertarians want to resolve South Africa’s legacy of inequality without race-based programmes such as Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment.
While on the other hand Mr Maimane and his supporters within the party believe that “pro-poor” – meaning “pro-black” – policies are essential to reverse some of the lingering iniquities of apartheid.
So the controversial return of Helen Zille over the weekend was like a hurricane, which is still tearing the DA apart.
Observers say by trying to regain the support of a small minority of conservatives in the party, the DA is alienating the majority of black voters who are critical for its survival.
There is a good chance that a splinter party may emerge from this week’s high stakes political drama.