We could work with Ramphele – Lekota

It could be possible to work with businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele should she enter politics, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota has said.

“Somehow we believe that it is possible for us to engage with Dr Ramphele once we know for sure what is the direction she thinks she will take, and how it will contribute to strengthen the opposition,” he said at a joint opposition news conference at Parliament today.

Parties present were the African Christian Democratic Party, Azanian People’s Organisation, Congress of the People, Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, United Christian Democratic Party, and United Democratic Movement.

Ramphele resigned as Gold Fields chairwoman earlier this week, stating she has done so to “further her socioeconomic and political work”.

Speculation is rife that she intends setting up a new political party.

Ramphele is scheduled to brief the media on Monday on her “political plans”.

Lekota said opposition parties had recognised in November 2011 that there was a need to work together.

“Also to give the voters an opportunity to see the seriousness with which we look upon the urgency of the situation in the country, to contain the deterioration under the ANC.

“We are busy with this process of building a common unity among opposition parties.”

He said Ramphele had expressed herself quite openly about the fact that she did not agree with, and was opposed to, the direction the ANC was taking the country into.

“On that we are on the same platform. But just how she intends to make her contribution, either with or without collaborating with us, we have to wait. We have to hear what she has to say,” Lekota said.

“But we are confident that as we work the way we are working, the capacity to join forces as opposition parties among ourselves can only grow – and make us more effective than if we remain completely isolated.”

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said opposition parties wanted to send a message to Ramphele.

It was important that any role she played “helped South Africa in the right direction and did not divide it ... in that sense, it’s important we convey a message”, he said.

Today’s media conference was called by the eight-party grouping to express their “extreme disappointment” in President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, delivered the evening before.

Responding to a question on how opposition parties would cooperate during next year’s national elections, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said talks on this were ongoing.

“There are talks about how we might contest the election in 2014, and what the right vehicle is. The parties differ quite strongly in their views of how this could happen, and we’re quite a long way from reaching conclusions.

“What is important is that given the fact that we’re able to work together in Parliament the way we are, it’s clear that, given the opportunity, we could make a formidable coalition government.”

Mazibuko said talks about this were proceeding very slowly.

“I don’t know that it will be wound up by 2014; perhaps for some political parties it will be ... the road to 2014 is a short one, but you never know. There might be some agreements that have been finalised by the elections,” she said.

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