Democratic Alliance chief executive Paul Boughey has handed in his resignation following an internal review panel’s recommendation that he and DA leader Mmusi Maimane step aside.
The recommendation was made after the DA’s poor showing in the May national and provincial elections.
The review panel report – which was commissioned by Maimane after the party’s disappointing performance in the general elections – recommended that new leadership should take over the reins from the pair.
The review report was compiled by former party leader Tony Leon and former party chief strategist Ryan Coetzee and Capitec founder Michiel le Roux.
In a statement, Boughey announced that he is “stepping down after having reached an agreement in principle with the party to do so”.
He appeared to credit among other things the unnecessary criticism leveled at the party and its leadership as party of the reason for his stepping down.
“I am always struck how much criticism the party and its leadership come under, when all too often so of much this critique is made blissfully unaware of how complex and important the DA and its cause is to South Africa,” said Boughey.
He said the final details about him relinquishing leadership would be concluded internally “in the coming days”.
Boughey said the last five years had been “the most satisfying, complex and challenging” of his professional career.
“It has been an incredible privilege to lead the operational team of the DA during this period. The DA is blessed to have as part of its professional staff component such a dynamic, diverse and talented group of people – bound together by a deep and abiding commitment to the party and to building a non-racial, inclusive and prosperous South Africa for all who live in it, no matter the circumstances of their birth.”
“I am particularly grateful for the support and wisdom that the senior management team of the operation have offered me over the years; they have often made the seemingly impossible possible. I have always tried my best to match their support by leading in a principled manner and with the seriousness that the responsibilities this role demanded of me,” said Boughey.
He leaves the DA during a time when internal infighting is at its peak leading up to this weekend’s federal council, which will elect James Selfe’s successor as federal chairperson.
“I am especially grateful of having had the chance to work directly with James Selfe and Mmusi Maimane. James is truly one of the unsung heroes of South Africa’s democratic dispensation. His wisdom, counsel and support has been invaluable, and the 40 years of service and counting he has offered this party and its predecessors is unlikely to ever be matched in our lifetime.”
He also praised Maimane saying: “Working with Mmusi has been an extraordinary experience. Together we have traveled across South Africa and the world, and I have always been struck by his unwavering commitment and belief in building one South Africa for all.
I have seen firsthand the warmth and affection South Africans from across all walks of life have for him. He too has taught me much; humility, patience and an unwavering belief that ultimately the better angels of people’s nature will prevail, something which I am sure has been severely tested in recent times.”
He said he had had the unique privilege of working directly with many senior political leaders of the DA across the country.
“I have learnt a great deal from them all. We have experienced great highs, most notably the historic successes in the 2016 elections, and working together to form the new governments that arose from these elections. We have weathered numerous storms, and together have had to come to terms with the disappointing election results of 2019,” said Boughey.