Johannesburg - DA leader Mmusi Maimane has resigned from his position in South Africa's main opposition party, the DA.
Maimane announced his decision on Wednesday afternoon ending months of speculation on whether he was to be removed.
"Over the past months, it has become quite clear to me that there exists a grouping within the DA who do not see eye to eye with me, and do not share this vision for the party and the direction it was taking," Maimane said in a media briefing outside Nkululeko House, the party’s Federal Head Office in Johannesburg.
"There has been for several months a consistent and coordinated attempt to undermine my leadership and ensure that either this project failed, or I failed.
"This extended to the smear campaign that was run on the front pages of an Afrikaans weekly paper in an attempt to destroy my name and my integrity.
"This cowardly behaviour has put my wife and two young children in great danger as pictures of our home were published in the media," he said.
Maimane added that "despite my best efforts, the DA is not the vehicle best suited to take forward the vision of building One South Africa for All".
"It is with great sadness that in order to continue the fight for this vision I so strongly believe in, and the country I so dearly love, I today tender my resignation as leader of the Democratic Alliance.
Mmusi Maimane announces his resignation from the DA. Video: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA).
"I will continue in the role as parliamentary leader until the end of the year, after which the party will go to Congress to elect new leadership."
Maimane was elected as leader of the party in May 2015 taking over from Helen Zille.
He has faced tough criticism over his handling of a variety of challenges that have gripped the party. He was criticized for not being decisive enough in handling Zille's colonialism tweets matter.
However, the party's poor performance and loss of support at this year's general elections fuelled speculation about his future in the party.
His departure follows the resignation of Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Monday. Mashaba resigned following Zille's election as the chairperson of the DA federal council.
Mashaba's said Zille's election signalled a win for a faction in the party that had values he could not align with.
Mashaba will remain as mayor until November 27 when a successor is chosen.