In South Africa, Helen Zilla, leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and leader of the new political party, Agang SA , Mamphela Ramphele, sealed the merger of their parties with a kiss perhaps a little too soon. At a press conference held in Cape Town, the two leaders issued statements and confirmed that they would formalize the integration of the two parties ahead of the general elections to be held this year.
It was decided that Mamphela Ramphele, leader of the Agang SA party, would stand as the new merged parties’ presidential candidate.
The two energetic women committed to embarking on a road show to rally support for the newly merged political parties. Plans are underway to launch an aggressive tour of South Africa and demonstrate commitment to voters in the hope of realizing more support for the DA.
The news of the merger between the DA and Agang was received with mixed reactions. Followers of the Agang party felt betrayed that their leader, Mamphela Ramphele, had not consulted with the party before embarking on such a monumental turnaround. Agang SA, formed just last year, received a massive amount of support throughout the country. Members needed to find a dedicated party that would take the country to a stable democracy and turn the collapsed civil service structures into a workable solution for all people.
The DA members showed support for the merger and realized that the stigma of favoring white people attached to the party had to be dealt with in an amicable manner. The merger between Patricia De Lille’s party and the DA before the last election proved to the South African People that the Democratic Alliance was committed to all people of the country, and no favoritism was given. The DA, over the years, maintained their strong political fairness for all the people of South Africa.
The sealed-with-a-kiss merger between the two parties was perhaps a little too soon. In a statement issued by the Agang SA leader, Ramphele said that although the DA issued statements that her party would merge, in fact, it was not so. To her followers, she said that, as the leader of Agang SA, she would continue to work to restore the promise of freedom. She promised to continue campaigning for the party and create a political impact on the upcoming elections.
The DA party responded to Ramphele’s report and said that both leaders issued an agreed-upon statement and an alliance was negotiated. They were not sure why the good doctor responded in that manner, claiming that mis-communication and misunderstanding are a likely reason. The DA remained committed to resolving the issue between the merger of both the DA and Agang SA.
DA leader, Helen Zilla, agreed that the decision to combine the two political parties was not canvassed within the grassroots level structures of both parties.
The picture of Helen Zille kissing the Agang leader was received with mixed reaction. Staunch DA supporters reacted in a disapproving manner. People commented that Helen Zilla had no respect, and had caused confusion ahead of the elections. Supporters of the DA have not forgotten what Dr. Ramphele stands for. She was a Steve Biko admirer who started the Black Consciousness Movement, which she represented. They fear that Ramphele will continue to incorporate strong communist principles if elected.
Ramphele has caused a wave of confusion within her party. On one hand agreeing to become the presidential candidate of the DA, while at the same time campaign for her party ahead of the elections. This seems to many to be silly and incompetent for a leader who could have made a needed difference in the country.
The misleading representation of a merger, followed by the announcement of no merger, has been confusing for most people. The DA supporters who see Helen Zilla as a solid individual with excellent leadership abilities now recognize the “iron lady” is human after all. The confusion between the announcements of the merger can be related to teething problems within each structure, and in all probability will result in a final report confirming if the sealed with a kiss merger is true.
People comment on the circus created by the leaders of the DA and Agang and realize that the portrayal of strong leadership qualities both women have could be just a sham. The DA political party has secured a sizeable percentage of votes during the last election, and their no-nonsense approach to service delivery held them in good stead around the country. This party was doing well, and the next election will probably result in a higher vote count based on their strong leadership abilities. Now people wonder if they, too, are not subject to the same stupidity as other parties who campaign for meaningless matters.
The Agang SA party, although relatively new, has captured a loyal following. Ramphele, although her political ambitions are not clearly defined, would have received a considerable number of votes in the upcoming election. Her presenting the creation of a state of confusion with a merger, then the announcement of no coalition after all, appears a sign reeking of insecurity.
Will the combination of these two political parties make a difference if the merging problems are streamlined? Could they be a government in waiting? Was the sealed with a kiss merger between the Democratic Alliance and Agang SA to soon? The DA and Agang have serious damage control to consider if the merger turns out to have been announced too soon, and is actually a wrong move by the committed leaders.
By Laura Oneale