Friendship of three women led to merger

2014-01-29 00:00

LONG before Dr Mamphela Ramphele joined the DA, she and the party’s two leading women had spent evenings “kicking off their shoes and drinking wine” together.

Ramphele is the apex of a three-woman triangle formed since 2010.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille gave sister paper Beeld a peek behind the scenes of the big shift in SA politics. “I knew it was coming,” De Lille said, adding she had known of Ramphele since the struggle days of the eighties.

Their first real meeting and the beginning of a personal friendship was when Ramphele was a guest speaker at a congress of De Lille’s Independent Democrats in 2010. “She was the middle point between Helen and I, the one who brought us together. Now we’ve brought her in again.”

Zille and De Lille often visited Ramphele at her house in Camps Bay, “It was just to let our hair down and chat.”

Talks between Ramphele and the DA failed last year, but over the last seven months, the DA’s federal chair, Dr Wilmot James, and Agang policy head Mills Soko had continued negotiating.

De Lille said Ramphele had long been a supporter of co-operation between opposition parties. De Lille’s own Independent Democrats was also previously merged with the DA, after which she became Cape Town’s mayor. She said at yesterday’s announcement that her decision at that time was in the best interests of the country.

“We have walked a long road together, but I can honestly say Helen and I have never fought. “This is a historic moment for me as well,” she said of yesterday’s merger.

James said the seven months of negotiations came to rapid fruition over the last three days in Cape Town. He said he and Soko met every two weeks to discuss party issues. “The idea of a merger of the two parties was made binding between Helen Zille and Ramphele herself over the last three days.”

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