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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid