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Holomisa: Opposition must merge

2009-05-05 18:11

Cape Town - United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa called on Tuesday for opposition parties to merge into a new movement strong enough to pose a serious challenge to the ANC.

Holomisa said the poor showing of many smaller parties in last month's election suggested voters wanted to "see a strong alternative to the ruling party".

"One thing that is becoming clear is that the voters seem to be looking for two strong political parties on the centre stage, but do not quite have the choice on the ballot paper yet.

"If that is indeed the mood of the voters, the onus is on the individual political parties," Holomisa told the Cape Town Press Club.

"The leaders of parties like the DA, Cope, IFP, ID and UDM should take the initiative to move matters forward."

Must put aside egos

Holomisa warned however, that the leaders of smaller parties would have to put aside their egos for such a project to work, and that it would have to amount to more than "merely a clustering together of existing opposition parties".

He proposed that smaller parties form a committee that could organise an exploratory convention, and in the meanwhile cooperate on issues where they have common ground.

"We could for instance have some strategic joint caucuses when there are issues of national importance before Parliament.

"However, if there are preconditions and political posturing by party leaders we can kiss goodbye the idea of building a strong alternative. Under such circumstances people shouldn't cry when we see a continuation of one-party dominance."

Most parties did badly in elections

The UDM boss said apart from the Democratic Alliance all parties fared badly in the April election, his own included.

"At first glance only one party gained in this election, the DA... every other political party performed badly."

The UDM will only have four seats in the fourth Parliament, to be sworn in on Wednesday, compared to the six it won in the 2004 election.

The DA cemented its position as official opposition by increasing its vote share to 16%, while newcomer Congress of the People polled 7.4%.

The Inkatha Freedom Party lost ten of its 28 seats, while the Freedom Front Plus and the Independent Democrats each received four seats in the National Assembly.