Ramphele’s surprise move

2014-01-29 00:00

SOME senior DA MPs were yesterday shocked to hear that Dr Mamphela Ramphele will be the party’s presidential candidate in the coming national elections.

“The caucus had to hear about this through the media.

“That is not a nice feeling. It is now being further enforced without our input,” one said yesterday.

Another senior DA MP was cautiously optimistic about the decision to take Ramphele into the DA’s fold, but added that some MPs are worried about the genuineness of Ramphele in the DA.

“We are, however, today a lot more comfortable with Ramphele’s joining than was the case before she had started Agang. Back then there would have been more resistance against a Ramphele who just walked into the party and took over. She had the upper hand then.

“Now the DA has the upper hand again and Ramphele is not in the same strong position that she had before as regards the DA’s demands. This sits more comfortably with the party’s members.”

DA leader Helen Zille yesterday announced that Ramphele and her party, AgangSA, had reached an agreement in terms of which the parties will merge and Ramphele will be the DA’s presidential candidate.

Zille said the parties had been negotiating for months and all proper processes were followed to appoint Ramphele as the presidential candidate. This includes approval from the DA’s top structures.

“This is a game-changing moment for South Africa,” Zille said, terming it the fruition of a seven-year project to bring about a re-alignment in a political landscape long divided by race.

Ramphele, who had in the past criticised the DA, said her views about the party were influenced by the death of Nelson Mandela.

“His death changed so many things and together we are stronger.”

Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA’s parliamentary leader, was also involved in the negotiations with Ramphele.

Mazibuko said she is excited about Ramphele’s decision to join the DA.

While chances are that Ramphele will be a DA MP after the elections, Mazibuko tweeted she did not feel her position as leader was under threat.

Dr Wilmot James, chair of the DA’s federal council, said AgangSA will for the time being remain a separate party with Ramphele as its leader.

He said a technical team including members from both Agang and the DA will now investigate the technical aspects and find ways to join the activists from both parties.

Agang members in KZN were shocked by yesterday’s announcement.

“We knew that there were talks behind the scenes. We never expected it so soon and before the elections,” interim KZN co-leader Mervin Govender said.

He said there had been no meeting to give feedback on the outcome of the talks between Zille and Ramphele, or to chart the future of the party.

“We are unsure if things are going to turn out like they did for the Independent Democrats,” he said, referring to the swallowing up of Patricia de Lille’s party by the DA.

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