According to the Mail & Guardian, DA party leader Helen Zille says Mamphela Ramphele of Agang had agreed in principle that “Agang’s branches and structures” would be folded into the Democratic Alliance to form a broad coalition.
She says Mamphele “reneged” on the two parties’ initial agreement, which would have resulted in a combined, super-party with Mamphele as the DA presidential candidate.
However statements by political analysts point to problems with the merger time-frame and implementation of such an arrangement, if at all. In particular the problem of Ramphele’s immanent membership of the two political party factions, which would have had to be communicated to each party’s respective national councils and membership accordingly.
Until somebody shows us the no-contest clause written into Mamphele’s contract, one may presume that the terms of the agreement were contingent on their being some form of consensus from the national executive of her own party and her also joining the party. (There are also important constitutional issues to consider. Prof Pierre de Vos raises Section 47(3)(c) of the Constitution).
In a statement by Agang, Mamphele reiterated that she was not a member of the Democratic Alliance as such, and had no plans on seeking membership. This resulted in an ultimatum from Helen Zille on Sunday, to the effect that if Mamphele did not become a member and “collapse her Agang Party” in the process, she would no longer be considered the DA presidential candidate.
Zille however admitted last week that she had not sort approval from her own Federal Executive in coming to this arrangement. It now appears she has attempted to calm the waters on Monday, after releasing earlier statements saying that Mamphele “cannot be trusted,” but continues to claim in a sense “denial of affection”.
THERE is so much that can be read into a kiss. In politics kisses can signal anything from rapprochement with an enemy, to the birth of a party.
The historic kiss between Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance and Mamphela Aletta Ramphele, affectionately known by her acronym MAR, which coincidentally, also sounds a lot like mother, is going to plague political analysts for years to come.
When the Democratic Alliance announced on national television that the life-partner of slain black consciousness leader Steven Bantu Biko was now their presidential candidate hopeful, the general public were stunned.
A real ‘ game-changing moment for South Africa” as Helen Zille put it, however not everyone was pleased, least of all some members of AGANG, the political movement and party that MAR had spent the better part of a year creating.
The press were quick to discount the kiss as a woman’s betrayal of her own movement, thus informing public opinion on the nature of such kisses before there was any time to reach consensus on what exactly was occurring so far as ‘kiss and tell’ was concerned. MAR has a unique brand of political lipstick that encompasses identity politics, gender relations and the active role of the citizen, and thus most Agang members were phoning into hotlines on South African radio wanting to give the woman the benefit of the doubt — a chance to explain herself — but her critics were having none of it, a literal field day, with the ANC characterising Ramphele as a “rent-a-black” and worse still, a “rent-a-face”.
Former members of Congress of the People (COPE) who had had experienced their own party’s long-winded leadership crisis and who had then returned to the ruling party in disgust, rushed out opinion pieces, as an unappreciative press weighed in on the significance of the kiss. Was it contagious, did the result end up in a black and white political party with coloured offspring, and so it goes.
Conflicting reports are now emerging, it would appear that the Gauteng branch of Agang has made plans to elect a new leader and ‘go it alone in the election’, while at national level, Agang social media is still inviting its members to attend regional meetings in which MAR will avail herself of the opportunity to outline her reasons for the decision and to place a roadmap on the table, which includes a programme of action based upon citizen benefits and the rooting out of government corruption. See who leads Agang?
The Democratic Alliance may thus have jumped the gun in rolling out plans for an operational merger and integration of members, and there have been no discussions at grassroots level as to how such an integration or merger will occur if at all.
Thus the kissing question remains, can MAR take the New Democratic Alliance into a coalition with her own movement, AGANG with a simple kiss, or is she now largely a ceremonial figure who has been co-opted by Helen Zille, who in reality has no plans to relinquish leadership of her own party? Will we see more such kissing opportunities with Patricia de Lille, and the black business lobby? Where does one line up, if all one wants in politics these days, is a bit of a peck?
The former vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and past director at the World Bank has a lot of explaining to do, but may still pull a rabbit out of a hat instead of removing it from Nelson Mandela’s ear. Indeed, she may not have to do all that much in terms of persuasion, since the AGANG party platform is not all that different from the Democratic Alliance manifesto, give or take a monopoly or two.
Mamphela Aletta Ramphele could yet become South Africa’s Corazon Aquino, the woman who became the Philippines 11th President. South Africa may yet have its first woman president.
UPDATE: Agang has affirmed that MAR is still the leader of the party, which has yet to merge with the DA. She is not a member of the DA but rather, the presidential candidate of an emerging coalition.
South Africa needs to dig itself out of a 19th-century mining business model, academic Mamphela Ramphele said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a media briefing ahead of an international leadership education conference in Cape Town, she said a failure to change the nature of the industry was having devastating repercussions.
“We’ve just had this tragic Marikana debacle, and what was in evidence there is the consequence of South Africa failing to transform the mining industry from a 19th century business model, which relies on cheap migrant labour, very archaic mining technology and a… low-skilled, labour-intensive industrial base.”