DA becomes official opposition

2003-03-27 22:51

Cape Town - South Africa has a new official opposition party in the National Assembly - the Democratic Alliance.

This follows the implementation of the 15-day window period for political defections which ends on Friday April 4.

The liberal Democratic Party replaced the New National Party as official opposition in the 1999 election but after the merger with the NNP in 2000, the two parties became the Democratic Alliance.

However, because the DP and NNP were elected as separate parties in the last parliamentary election, they retained their separate identities in Parliament.

However, when the DA split - upon the withdrawal of the NNP in 2001 - only the DP Members of Parliament referred to themselves as "DA". Technically, however, they remained DP.

Now with the official "crossing" period in place allowing MPs to shift parties without losing their seats, the Democratic Party MPs have signed up to be DA MPs. Altogether 33 of them did so on Thursday - and it was announced by the deputy speaker Baleka Mbete in the National Assembly this afternoon.

However, five Democratic Party MPs have not yet switched parties - they are Roy Jankielsohn, Mark Lowe, Nigel Bruce and Bernice Sono. A party source indicated that they had reasons for not yet doing so. Jankielsohn, for instance, is recuperating from a major motor accident.

Nine National Party MPs joined the DA on Tuesday and Wednesday - pushing the total DA tally to 42 - with the five DP MPs to follow. Even if they were not to "join up" the DA as the second largest party in the National Assembly is secure in its position as official opposition. - I-Net Bridge