Zille - Ramphele Rift Favors ANC as Elections Near

2014-02-04 14:14

the Zille-Ramphele break-up ahead of the 2014 elections reminds me of  celebrity  marriages at Hollywood. Hollywood marriages seldom last. Some have lasted as short as 55 hours while others lasted longer--as long as 52 days. That is it! If we can learn anything from Hollywood celebrities, it is that anything can become a dramatic film.

Glamorous, dramatic, thoughtless and short-lived, the breakup of the partnership between the Democratic Alliance headed by Helen Zille and Agang SA’s leader Mamphela Ramphele seems to have followed this pattern. That this happens only weeks ahead of the pending elections is ominous.  Who will be the winners and losers from this unexpected divorce?

SA watched with dismay as the two heavy-weight politicians and opposition leaders Ms. Zille and Ms. Ramphele engaged in a blame game  to justify the rationale behind their rather abrupt less-than-a-week long  break-up that could cast doubt on their ability to run a country still recovering from the legacy of apartheid.

This blame game, we must admit, reflects a lack of political maturity from opposition groups at a moment when a strong coalition is needed as an alternative to the ruling party. It is also an indication that the ANC, the ruling party, despite its failures and in the absence of any credible opposition, will continue to enjoy an absolute majority in the SA political arena for years to come.

Lost opportunities

Touted by analysts and commentators alike as a landmark in the country’s democracy, the merge of the DA and Agang SA would have crucially benefitted both opposition parties and the country in many ways. It would have corrected the popular misperception of the DA as a white only political party, giving it thus the opportunity to woo voters that have long been reticent to join.

For Agang SA, a young party still struggling to impose itself as a serious contender in the nation’s political arena, the merge would have surely enabled it to gain a momentum and easily win votes in elections among the white and the Black population alike, unlocking thus a sudden hope for an immediate victory.

By letting the coalition crumble, the opposition has clearly emboldened a diffident ANC in the nation’s political race. There are now concerns that the Zille - Ramphele break-up has served to deflect attentions away from, and to the advantage of, the ANC for its alleged corruption, mismanagement and a horde of other weaknesses.  Furthermore, it has given the ANC the voice to crow with pride for being the only credible political party in the country with the ability to keep the African rainbow nation together.

Already, the ANC has proven this by consistently keeping in one piece what would normally be an unholy alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP)—a legendary cohabitation from the far-right, center and far-left political spectrum!

As the DA and Agang SA’s leadership continue to ponder on what this faux pas holds for their political future apart from the 2014 elections, it is important that they learn from this old African proverb: ‘When two brothers fight, a stranger inherits their father’.

Your take: Can SA opposition parties survive the rough terrain of political competition without a merger?

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