26 April 2009

South Africa: Zille Faces Dilemma as DA Takes W Cape

Cape Town — The DA has officially clinched 51 percent of Western Cape votes, leaving party leader Helen Zille free to go it alone in the provincial government.

This weekend, Zille was busy planning her next move - including her exit from the mayor's office at the City of Cape Town.

The ACDP's Grant Haskin, the deputy mayor, will become the acting mayor from April 29, when the election results are gazetted - the date when Zille becomes the premier elect.

In the provincial legislature the DA is guaranteed 22 seats but should Zille opt for a coalition government she could have trouble getting smaller parties to join hands with her.

Newcomer Cope, which won 7.74 percent of votes, has decided to remain in opposition and build a "credible alternative," its national spokesman Philip Dexter said yesterday.

The ID, which won 4.68 percent of votes, and the ACDP, which garnered a measly 1.47 percent, are licking their wounds having bled votes to the DA as well as Cope.

ID provincial secretary Rodney Lentit said party leaders were meeting tomorrow to discuss the way forward. It was clear that Zille had but a slim majority and would need a partner. However, the ID, which has won two seats in the provincial legislature, was weighing up if it would not be in their interest to stay in the opposition.

Zille and ID national leader Patricia de Lille talked on Friday.

"The ANC will not be a credible opposition, Zille has a slim majority, so it should not be seen as an olive branch, she needs to be strengthened. We may be far more effective in opposition," said Lentit.

Dexter said yesterday his party would not enter into a coalition with anyone. However, the party would be speaking to smaller parties like the ID and the UDM, who had similar manifestos. Dexter said Cope hoped to co-operate with such smaller parties.

"We took a firm decision that we would be a party of opposition keeping the ANC and the DA on their toes and concentrating on building our structures. Cope is here to build a political alternative for the people of South Africa and we will not be able to do that by taking one seat as an MEC. We promised voters we would not go into a coalition and we are true to our word," he said.

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