'I still hold the same values' - Zille says Mashaba joined DA with 'great enthusiasm' when she was leader

Herman Mashaba joined the DA "with great enthusiasm" when Helen Zille was still leader, newly elected chairperson of the DA's federal council said on Monday after Mashaba resigned as DA councillor and mayor of Johannesburg.

On May 27, 2014, 20 days after a general election in which the DA showed sizeable growth Mashaba announced that he would join the DA (and resign as chairperson of the libertarian Free Market Foundation).

Zille was then still firmly the DA leader, the possibility of her leaving this position was not even a softly whispered rumour.

On Monday, a day after Zille was elected as chairperson of the federal council at a meeting of this party structure in Johannesburg, Mashaba announced his resignation.

"The election of Helen Zille as chairperson of the federal council represents a victory for people in the DA who stand diametrically opposed to my beliefs and value system, and I believe of those of most South Africans of all backgrounds," he said at the press conference where he announced that he would leave the party and with it, the mayoralty of South Africa's biggest metro on November 27.

"I cannot reconcile myself with a group of people who believes race is irrelevant in a discussion of inequality and poverty in South Africa in 2019," said the former chairperson of the Free Market Foundation.

Sticking to her promise on Sunday that she would "stay in her lane", when asked for comment, Zille said she didn't want to say too much as the party took a position.

"He joined [the DA] with great enthusiasm when I was still the leader. I still hold the same values as then. I don't know what has changed," she said.

Zille didn't speak to Mashaba since her election and she didn't want to call him herself because she didn't want to go over "the leader" - Mmusi Maimane's - head.

Asked if Mashaba's resignation would complicate her work as chairperson of the federal council a day into the job, Zille said: "Not at all."