Johannesburg - AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele faces an internal revolt, with angry officials and regional leaders vowing to “fight” her for “using” and “betraying” them.
Vowing not to follow her into the DA because it was a “white party”, they accused Ramphele of abandoning Agang for selfish reasons.
They said she had not been transparent about her secret merger talks with the DA.
The talks culminated on Tuesday with DA leader Helen Zille naming Ramphele as the DA’s presidential candidate for the elections.
Eight Agang leaders and senior party officials told The Star they would not accept Ramphele’s move.
Disgruntled members were expected to hold a crisis meeting on Tuesday night at the party’s Joburg headquarters, followed by a sit-in at Ramphele’s office.
According to The New Age on Wednesday, a Gauteng official said that Agang intended electing another leader to contest the general elections.
“Our leader is taking us where we never wanted to go. If she wants a merger with the DA, she should have consulted us first,” acting Agang Gauteng secretary Yako Sakhiwo told the daily.
He said the political party, formed by Ramphele about a year ago, would still contest the elections with another leader.
Pule Monama, a member of Agang’s national advisory council, described Ramphele’s decision as a blow to people in the villages who had hoped there was “a new dawn that wanted to genuinely fight and eradicate their service delivery problems”.
“Her decision to abandon Agang and be the presidential candidate of another party was never part of our discussions. It’s not the same as a decision to co-operate,” a fuming Monama said.
“I personally believe this is a betrayal of the trust people put in her.”
Agang spokesman Thabo Leshilo on Tuesday referred all enquiries to Mark Peach, who said: “We are putting together a statement and will release it through Sapa because we can’t possibly respond to all individual questions.”
Ramphele failed to respond to calls and a text message.
Monama ruled out the possibility of joining the DA, saying: “I will never do that. I and the DA have different reasons for fighting the ANC. Not until the majority of our people have achieved a certain economic status will we be able to fight with the DA as equals.”
Agang’s Limpopo secretary, Johanna Mphogo, shared Monama’s sentiments.
“We just saw (the announcement) on TV. We are confused, actually. We don’t know what’s happening.
“Maybe other citizens were consulted, but it never reached my ears that there was this intention to merge with the DA.
“As an individual, I am not ready to join the DA. I don’t want to work with the DA,” she said.
A senior Agang official said Ramphele had “miscalculated horribly”, adding that they planned to fight to ensure Agang was not finished as a party.
“She’s not the party. It’s a selfish move on her part. If we wanted to join the DA, we would have done so on our own. This is about her,” the official said.
The source added that Ramphele had “failed dismally” in building Agang, resulting in the party failing to hold an elective conference and a list conference or prepare an election manifesto.
A regional committee member from Gauteng said: “We feel used. This woman used us. We are not going to the DA. We are going to hold a night vigil in her office tonight.”
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo said he expected some black nationalists in Agang would quit or seek other political homes rather than join the DA.
“However, others will follow Ramphele because these are personality-based parties,”
Meanwhile, a DA insider and a political analyst also said the move might do more harm than good.
“We’ve worked so hard to make this a youth-friendly, progressive, interesting party and, to put it simply, Ramphele’s boring,” the insider said on Tuesday.
The insider called the move a “knee-jerk” reaction to panic in the DA because it had not started the year off with enough of a “bang”.
Ramphele did not espouse the DA’s values and had not undergone the normal, six-month-long selection process, which included vetting, the insider said. Because of this, the general mood was unhappy and there was talk of camps forming.
Political analyst Protas Madlala agreed that Ramphele did not appeal to the youth. “She’s not a political entity,” he said. “She was only just beginning to form her own identity with AgangSA.”
Madlala said the only winner to come out of a merging of Agang with the DA would be the former. “It’s being absorbed by a large, established organisation, but the DA isn’t gaining anything,” he said.
The DA’s former parliamentary deputy chief whip, Mike Ellis, said he believed Ramphele had a lot to offer but that she should have offered it sooner. “She’s coming on board at this late stage as slightly tarnished goods,” he said. “There’s a feeling she’s abandoned people.” - Additional reporting by Bernadette Wolhuter
The Star, The Mercury and Sapa