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Herman Mashaba keeps eating the DA’s lunch

As the founder of hair product company Black Like Me, Herman Mashaba is accustomed to making waves – of the salon-styled kind.  As a fairly new politician, he’s making waves of a different kind. 🌊 This week was particularly busy for the ActionSA boss. On Monday he held a press conference pushing for his coalition partners in Gauteng’s three metros to partner with the EFF in Ekurhuleni. Trouble is, the DA and others promised their voters they’d never do this. Mashaba claims the coalition needs the EFF to survive an impending motion of no confidence from the ANC. His coalition partners think he’s full of nonsense for going public and for his ongoing love affair with Julius Malema’s red berets. (When Mashaba, then a DA member, was mayor of Joburg, reports alleged the EFF was given patronage over lucrative City of Johannesburg tenders as a quid pro quo for working with him.)

Unfazed, Mashaba then ran a Twitter t-shirt competition (we’re not even joking) 👀 for those who could correctly guess the latest high profile leader to join his party. As many corrected conjectured, the DA’s former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Athol Trollip, was the man of the hour.

Wooing Trollip is quite the coup for Mashaba, who is steadily attracting disenchanted leaders from the DA while it increasingly caters to a conservative white base. Trollip was close to Mmusi Maimane, the DA’s first black leader, who was effectively ousted after the party’s poor performance in the 2019 national elections. 

Trollip made inroads in trying to clean up Nelson Mandela Bay before the coalition government there fell apart. Now ActionSA has made him its Eastern Cape chairperson and hopes he’ll increase the party’s presence in his native province. 

Mashaba seems intent on presenting himself as a kingmaker to South African voters ahead of the 2024 national elections. His new party was the breakout star of last year’s election and is gaining in popularity – albeit harmfully at times with xenophobic rhetoric. Our politics are dramatically realigning amid the gradual decline of the ANC, which may be pushed out of power nationally by 2024. 🤔 But, coalition politics being as they are now, we’re watching what will follow with some trepidation. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 11 February 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.