News / Africa

South African Opposition Party Unites Against ANC

FILE - Former South African anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele.
FILE - Former South African anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele.
Reuters
Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele will run for president for the Democratic Alliance (DA) in this year's South African election, giving the main opposition party a prominent black figurehead to challenge the ruling ANC.
 
But the choice of Ramphele, which some believe was aimed at shaking off perception of the DA as guardian of white privilege, is unlikely to turn popular support against the African National Congress, which led a decades-long struggle against the racially divisive apartheid system.
 
The move might even backfire on Ramphele, a medical doctor and former World Bank managing director who commands respect among the black majority as the partner of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, beaten to death in apartheid police custody in 1977.
 
However, her year-old Agang political party has struggled to gain traction despite growing disaffection among voters with President Jacob Zuma's ANC, in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
 
“I can think of no better person to be our presidential candidate in this crucial election,” DA leader Helen Zille told a news conference in Cape Town, before embracing her new political ally.
 
Ramphele - also a successful businesswoman who made millions as a senior mining industry executive - alluded to the death in December of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, as a symbol of the changing political landscape.
 
“I believe this decision is in the best interests of South Africa as we head into turbulent waters,” she said. “The death of Nelson Mandela has changed many things for South Africa.”
 
However, the immediate public reaction suggested some voters see the move as a blatant attempt by the DA to win black support, while some accused Ramphele of cynical opportunism.
 
DA still seen as white party
 
“The DA doesn't represent black aspirations, the hierarchy of the DA is white male,” said independent film maker Sindile Mnguni, smoking a cigarette next to a six-meter bronze statue of Mandela outside the Sandton City mall.
 
“[Ramphele] is opportunistic, that's my take on it. Why did she even bother starting a party in the first place? It's a cop out,” Mnguni added.
 
According to Papi Thomas, a 25-year-old financial advisor in Johannesburg, the move appeared to be a bid by Agang to get into parliament through the back door, since it might not make it alone.
 
“That changes my opinion on who I might have voted for. Who knows? The ANC might get my vote now,” Thomas said.
 
The ANC is expected to romp to victory in this year's polls, despite seeing its support wane over the years amid charges it has failed to lift millions of blacks out of grinding poverty while some officials have been implicated in corruption.
 
The party won nearly two thirds of the vote in the last elections in 2009 and its overall majority this year is not in question.
 
Ramphele has described the ANC as “authoritarian, intolerant of criticism and unaccountable”, and in 2012 accused Zuma of leading an assault on the post-apartheid constitution.
 
But her supporters will likely be worried that her voice might be drowned out in the DA, which remains largely white-dominated.
 
“She will be seen as a 'weak' joiner, more likely to be shaped by where she is going than to be the shaper,” said independent political analyst Nic Borain.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid