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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs