Cape Town - Disillusioned Western Cape AgangSA members are weighing up their options: to jump ship or follow their leader Mamphela Ramphele to the DA.
Ramphele was named on Tuesday as the DA’s presidential candidate for the coming election.
Outraged members claimed their leader made the decision without consulting them, and have betrayed them in doing so.
A furore has erupted since Tuesday’s announcement with AgangSA and DA members complaining about the veil of secrecy and lack of transparency on the part of their leaders in sealing the deal.
Senior AgangSA members in the province claimed Ramphele’s attempts at an explanation were even more disappointing, since she tried to spin her actions using Nelson Mandela as an example.
AgangSA’s senior Western Cape co-ordinator, Neville Hendricks, said they went to the AgangSA offices in Cape Town on Wednesday to find out what was going on. “She apologised for not informing us beforehand, and tried to give us an explanation using Madiba as an analogy.”
Ramphele had said that when Madiba was in prison speaking to the apartheid government, he also had not consulted with his comrades who would have not agreed with him about the talks.
While they were not impressed with the response, members had decided to give her an opportunity to explain to the masses why she was merging with the DA. “We left there more confused but we’ll wait for the follow-up meeting on Friday. We are all sad, we had such high hopes now.”
Another member said it was more a case of selling your birthright for a plate of food.
Senior AgangSA leaders in the province have been inundated with frantic calls from volunteers, party co-ordinators and supporters, while Cape Flats volunteers agreed the “DA is not the alternative they wanted”.
Fatiema Hendricks-Sulaiman, who gave up her occupational therapy practice to help build the structures of AgangSA, said she handed in her resignation from the party shortly before the announcement.
“I had a feeling this was coming, and I decided to resign. There was no consultation, this is something Dr Ramphele did unilaterally on her own.”
And Hendricks-Sulaiman said members throughout the province people felt abandoned by their leader.
“Dr Ramphele talked about transparency, inclusion, but then does the opposite, leaving the party in disarray.”
People had put their own money into the party and deserved to have a say in how it engaged in politics.
A township volunteer who did not want to be named said she was angry and disappointed:
“How can she be our leader and at the same time she’s with the DA. We wanted an alternative to the DA and ANC.”
Several township supporters were still hopeful their leader would change her mind.
Another volunteer said township residents had been waiting for someone to lead them to a better future.
“We are mad because we did not want to be linked with the DA. Now we have been sold out. She should have taken us in her confidence.”
Francesco Uysrootenberg said he would adopt a wait-and-see stance, until Ramphele reported back to members about her decision.
“The deal looks very complicated, to be the leader of one party and the No 1 candidate for another. However, based on discussions we had with our field officer yesterday the party will stand separately from the DA in the upcoming elections.”
He said he would have appreciated a process of consultation. “We will listen to her before we decide to accompany her on this trip or not.”
In Gauteng similar scenes played out and while party member Donald Tontsi denied there was party infighting, others were upset by the lack of transparency.
AgangSA’s Gauteng chairman Andries Tlouamma said Ramphele’s decision could not be made by an individual, therefore there was no merger. “That is going to be our decision, not her decision. We are the custodians of this party.
“There are structures in a party. There are processes to follow to arrive at certain decisions.”
Tlouamma said disagreements were part of politics. “In a political party, when we disagree, it does not mean we don’t like each other... ”
He said Agang was giving Ramphele an opportunity to consult with them urgently about her decision.
The DA’s Wilmot James said while Ramphele was not yet a DA party member, they “will take care of (her) membership”, as soon as possible.
He said the two parties were intent on merging, but had not yet done so.
The technical committee would take care of the integration process.