16 February 2013

South Africa: Zille Tight-Lipped About Ramphele

Photo: Agang SA
Mamphela Ramphele has declared her intention to form a party political platform for all South Africans.

Johannesburg — Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille remained tight-lipped on Saturday evening about former activist Mamphela Ramphele's future political plans.

"Mamphela and I have raised children together, we chat often, we remain good friends and I know quite a lot [about her plans] but I don't like to speak for other people" she told the SA National Editors' Forum in Cape Town.

The two worked together at the University of Cape Town many years ago.

Ramphele was set to announce her plans on Monday, amid media reports she was starting a political party.

Zille's speech made mention of the many political mergers, coalitions and alliances that had taken place in the past in South Africa.

Many parties chose these options before election, believing that they would have a better chance of winning votes.

"We are masters of political alliances and mergers...some have worked well, some have worked badly, some have succeeded, some have failed but we've learnt lessons from every single one of them," Zille said.

The DA's job was to create open opportunities for all. In the future, the party may not be called the DA anymore, she said. Zille said she wouldn't be the leader at that stage but the goals would remain the same.

She said Ramphele's plans formed part of a long road to a strong two-party system in South Africa, a political "re-alignment".

When asked if Ramphele would be fast-tracked to top DA leadership should she join the party, Zille said there would be no special treatment.

"If she had to stand for a position, she would have to go through the process like any person."

She said in this theoretical situation, it was likely that Ramphele would naturally be chosen for a leadership position by party members because of her skills and experience.

Asked if she was worried about the impact Ramphele would have on the DA should she start her own party, she said: "No".

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