Zille rejects Ramphele 'window dressing'

2014-02-03 13:50
DA leader Helen Zille addresses a media conference in which she discussed the party's failed agreement with Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele. (Marco Longari, AFP)

DA leader Helen Zille addresses a media conference in which she discussed the party's failed agreement with Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele. (Marco Longari, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Monday that her party had not wanted to enter into a partnership with Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele merely because they wanted a black face for their organisation.

"We completely reject the notion of window dressing... We look at achieving diversity."

Ramphele had an international reputation as an academic and a manager as well as an impeccable struggle record, Zille said.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said: "It's not just about having a black leader in politics.

"We have more black supporters than any other party, except the ANC, today."

She said that if the merger with Agang SA had been successful, it would have been a significant step for the DA. The party had yet to decide, through its federal executive, who its new presidential candidate would be.

Ramphele proposal 'nonsense'

Zille also stated that Ramphele's proposal to retain her position while being DA presidential candidate was nonsensical.

"I said [to her] 'that can't happen... It's electoral nonsense'. It is unconstitutional... And it would entirely confuse our voters."

Zille said Ramphele had been in discussion about uniting with the DA for "a very long time".

"She put on a lot of pressure to make that move."

Zille said she started getting worried about Ramphele's commitment on Tuesday before a news conference to announce the party's new presidential candidate.

This was because Ramphele said she had wanted to rewrite the media statement to say she would remain the leader of her own party.

Zille said she wanted to call the news conference off, but Ramphele insisted on going ahead with it.

Zille said South Africa was in a race against time to save its democracy because there were indications that the National Prosecuting Authority was becoming an "extension of [President Jacob] Zuma and his personal clique".

"We need to take bold moves [to show voters that] it's ok to vote DA. In fact, it's essential to our democracy."

If the courts, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Independent Electoral Commission and police were not independent, then South Africa would become a failed state.

Friendship takes a knock

Had the merger with Agang SA worked out, "it would have been magnificent", Zille said.

According to a joint statement issued by Ramphele and Zille on Friday, the Agang SA founder would have been welcomed into the DA at a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday.

However, following the joint statement being issued, a message from Ramphele was uploaded onto Agang SA's website.

"You may have by now seen 'joint' statements issued by the Democratic Alliance in which it is claimed that I will be accepting DA membership on Monday," she said.

"This is not true. Nor did I agree to any such statement."

Zille said she "got a terrible fright" when Ramphele claimed she had not agreed to the contents of the joint statement. She said her friendship with Ramphele had taken a "very bad knock".

On Sunday, Zille said Ramphele had reneged on the agreement to be the DA's presidential candidate at a meeting on Sunday, despite the party negotiating in good faith.

 

- SAPA

Read more on:    agang sa  |  da  |  helen zille  |  lindiwe mazibuko  |  mamphela ramphele  |  elections 2014  |  politics
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