S Africa opposition party gets first black leader

Mmusi Maimane replaces Helen Zille to lead South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has elected Mmusi Maimane as its new leader to succeed Helen Zille.

Maimane, 34, who became the first black leader of the party, began his victory speech in his native Xhosa language.

He told delegates at the party conference that his priorities would be fighting for a fairer society with equal opportunities for all.

“We can transcend racial inequality, but this can only happen if every South African acknowledges the injustices of apartheid and if we all recognise that racial inequality of the past still remains with us today,” Maimane, who was born in the previously-black township of Soweto in Johannesburg, said.

The part-time pastor is expected to the challenge the African Nation Congress (ANC) which has governed the country since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Zille, a white woman, announced last month she was leaving after leading the party for the last eight years. She led the party to win 22 percent of the vote in the 2014 national election, its best performance.

South Africa remains deeply divided racially, with most black people preferring to vote for the ANC.

“Black South African people are scared of being led by a white person. But I don’t think it will actually make a difference,” Zintle Mabongo, a resident of Port Elizabeth where party delegates elected the new leader, told Al Jazeera.

Source: Al Jazeera