Mmusi Maimane is the new leader of the Democratic Alliance

He succeeds Helen Zille‚ who has decided to bow out after years at the helm of the country’s chief opposition party.

The Democratic Alliance elected Mmusi Maimane as leader on Sunday, making him the first black leader of the party.

"Your new leader is Mmusi Maimane," Zille announced to loud cheers at the party's annual conference, after she opened a sealed envelope containing the election results.

Maimane, 34, the party's parliamentary leader, was seen as the clear favourite to succeed Zille in the election, in which 1,425 delegates from across the country voted by secret ballot.

Maimane beat the party’s federal chairman‚ Wilmot James‚ in what has been described as an intense leadership struggle to succeed Zille.

In his victory speech‚ Maimane‚ who described his election as “deeply humbling”‚  said the hopes of 1994 when South Africa’s first democratic elections were held meant nothing to the country’s young people.

Under Zille the DA made inroads in areas long dominated by the ANC, and it is looking to grow its support in the next local government elections in 2016.

The DA boosted its share of the vote from 16.6 percent in 2009 to 22.2 percent in 2014 elections, but still struggles to present itself as a credible alternative to the ANC, which has ruled since the formal end of apartheid in 1994.

Times Live Reports

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