DA federal chairperson Athol Trollip. File photo: Raahil Sain/African News Agency (ANA).

* This story has been updated

Johannesburg - Former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip has followed Mmusi Maimane's footsteps and has also decided to step down as federal chairperson of the DA.

Trollip took to the podium on Wednesday at a late afternoon presser held following the DA FedEx meeting in Joburg.

He said it was his time to go. Trollip campaigned fiercely for the position of DA federal council chairperson. He lost the race to Helen Zille. 

 "There is a time to come and a time to go. I realise that this weekend that it is my time to go. I am not going slag off my political party. I know that new leadership will emerge," Trollip said.

"The highlight of my political career was being elected as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. I am pleased that I was able to implement DA policy in the two years in office. This year we have less than acceptable election results," he said.

Trollip's resignation came as surprise and it has been speculated that he decided to resign in support of Maimane.  

Federal council chairperson Helen Zille said the FedEx's discussions were dominated by Maimane and Trollip's decisions. She said the FedEx would meeting on Thursday to discuss the matter of who will replace Maimane. The party is also taking legal advice on the matter, Zille said. She said the party would have hoped for both Maimane and Trollip to stay on until a special congress was held in April. 

"A great deal of the meeting was spent discussing today what was said by Mmusi and Athol. We would have preferred for Mmusi and Athol to have stayed until a congress. We now have a challenging road ahead," she said.

Trollip's exit and that of Maimane follows the resignation of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Mashaba said he was leaving the party as his values and thought of the party were not aligned.

Maimane said he will continue serving as an MP and DA leader in Parliament until the end of the year. He said the effects of the political attacks against him were grave.

Political Bureau