Herman Mashaba's joining the DA was in support of principles of non-racialism". File picture: Timothy Bernard

Cape Town - Herman Mashaba, entrepreneur and founder of the Black Like Me cosmetics empire, has joined the DA as an ordinary card-carrying member – and stepped down as chairman of the Free Market Foundation.

“It is with regret that I must stand down from leading the (foundation) but it is important this proud organisation remains politically impartial in its vital work,” the businessman said on Tuesday night.

“I realise that my entry into the DA will cause discussion.I hope it does. I also truly hope that my move will unchain and inspire like-minded South Africans to take an active interest in the future of our country. Our democracy is new and it allows all of us to be players.”

The decision was not influenced by any discussions with individuals, but taken to “give my support and commitment to helping the party to achieve power. It is our best chance of delivering a better life for all in our lifetime”.

His joining the DA, Mashaba said, was in support of “principles of non-racialism, a healthy market economy which delivers on jobs, a smaller and more effective government dedicated to a constructive partnership with business, and eventually a direct democracy where every politician is held personally accountable for their performance and behaviour”.

The foundation’s executive director, Leon Louw, said: “We are very sorry to lose him… He’ll continue to support us (but) we have to remain fiercely politically independent.”

On Tuesday night, DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane welcomed his party’s newest member.

“It’s absolutely delightful. I have known Herman for a while. He exudes the values that we espouse – of an open-opportunity and market-led economy. So we welcome him and wish him all the best as he serves in the DA,” Maimane said.

Mashaba said that while the DA was not a perfect party – “politics is not a game of perfect” – the party had delivered in the Western Cape better than other parties had in the rest of the country.

His announcement came as Statistics SA on Tuesday said economic growth had shrunk by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Mashaba also cited concerns about the economy and employment as reasons for joining the DA.

Political Bureau