NNP slammed for 'treason'

2004-08-10 08:52

Cape Town - The New National Party (NNP) and the African National Congress (ANC) were the only ones who were impressed on Monday with their new co-operation agreement. Other parties and experts saw the move as the final nail in the coffin of the NNP, a party described as a 90-year-old dying colossus.

One of the NNP provincial leaders even described the NNP's decision to join the ANC as "dishonourable" and "undignified". Other reactions contained words such as "treason", "selling out for a few seats", "painful relief" and "tragic".

The amalgamation, which in practice means the gradual disbanding of the NNP, is seen as a restructuring of party politics with the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) emerging as the two biggest role players for now.

Meanwhile, it is not a given that local NNP councillors will join the ANC.

"Historic development"

At a meeting of the ANC Women's League in Sandton on Monday, President Thabo Mbeki, ANC leader, gave his official stamp of approval to the "historic development".

Mbeki singled the NNP out as the only oppressors' party that said: "We are defeated, we disbanded, we are now joining those we oppressed."

Helen Zille, DA spokesperson, said it was the final nail in the NNP's coffin. This party was committing treason against its voters for the last time. "Marthinus van Schalkwyk destroyed his party and let down his voters in exchange for a cabinet post.

"NNP voters will not follow him because they do not want to turn South Africa into a one-party state. The political arena in South Africa is now clearly set out. It is the ANC against the DA."

Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader Pieter Mulder said the 250 000 voters who voted for the NNP in April, to get control of the Western Cape government among other things, had reason to feel angry and cheated.

"Their votes are now given to the ANC without their permission."

The FF+ predicted that Van Schalkwyk would only survive in the ANC for a short while before all signs of the NNP would be destroyed.

Mosiuoa Lekota, ANC chairperson, and Van Schalkwyk jointly announced at a media conference on Sunday that the NNP would be taking part in elections under the ANC banner in future.

The NNP said on Monday that this accelerated co-operation came after the party recently adopted the ANC's freedom manifesto, which signalled "a milestone in building a new South Africa".

NNP members of parliament, legislatures and local councils have been encouraged to join the ANC and still keep their posts during the window period for floor-crossing.

Van Schalkwyk will lead the way "within weeks".

Only five of the 54 members of the NNP's federal council - including Inus Aucamp, Bertie van der Merwe and Johan Swanepoel from the Free State - voted against the amalgamation suggestion. One member refrained from voting.

Should all seven NNP members in the national assembly join the ANC, the ANC's number of seats would increase to 286 (out of 400).

What will be your lasting memory of the NNP?