Agang’s marriage to the DA ‘could backfire, driving support to EFF’

2014-01-29 00:00

HAVING Dr Mamphela Ramphele join the DA as its presidential candidate will not necessarily win more black voters to the party.

On the contrary, parties like Julius Malema’s EFF and the FF+ may benefit from the marriage between the DA and AgangSA.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said Ramphele may lose supporters because of her decision to join the DA.

“It may drive some Agang supporters to the EFF. It could boomerang.

“Those who liked Agang, liked the party because it was neither the DA nor the ANC.”

Mathekga said it was important that the DA and Ramphele manage the message of the merger with the DA correctly.

“Everything depends on how they explain it in the next few days. Just because Ramphele is there does not mean it is automatically a bridge to black voters. Many black people distrust the DA’s policies.”

Independent political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Ramphele was denting her image after turning down an offer to join the DA last year.

“That she now accepts the same offer, having seen her project not working, can be interpreted as political expediency,” he said.

Fikeni said the merger, coupled with a high-profile and prominent presidential candidate, would improve the DA’s standing among the middle class.

He said it remained to be seen whether the old guard within the DA would be disappointed or embrace the merger as a gain to dislodge the ANC.

Mcebisi Ndletyana, head of the political economy faculty of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, said the merger would not make any impact on KwaZulu-Natal.

“It does not even make the DA more appealing to the voters,” Ndletyana said.

He also said the province had not been a strong political constituency to Ramphele.

“KZN is a homogenous block solidly behind the ANC. There is a strong ethnic support for Zuma. The bond between ANC and voters has been cemented through Jacob Zuma”

Fikeni said claims by the KZN AgangSA chapter that there was no consultation in the party could see unhappy members join other parties.

“Some will stay and others may move to find a new political home,” he said.

Theo Venter, a political analyst at the North West University, said he is also not convinced that Ramphele’s move will bring black voters to the DA.

He said it may make a small difference for the DA to get 19% or 20% of the vote, “but it will be marginal”.

In areas like Limpopo and the North West where Ramphele enjoyed support, many of the voters who had planned to vote for Agang will now vote for the EFF, Venter said.

And he said the FF+ could get an unexpected bonus from the merger. “Especially in conservative white areas, people may not see her [Ramphele] as an option and now vote for the FF+.”

Ipsos research in November showed that Agang would not have won more than one percent of the vote, while the DA could hope for 18%.

Support for the EFF was estimated at about four percent and the FF+ at one percent.

A source in the DA told sister paper Beeld that Ramphele does not bring a lot of support for the DA, but contributes to the diversity of leadership.

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