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Cape Town - Opposition parties are working on plans to create a “formidable” opposition to take on the ANC at next year’s election, and limit the ruling party’s 18-year grip on power by decreasing its majority to below 50 percent.
Some of the parties, like the DA, UDM, Cope and Freedom Front Plus, revealed on Friday that talks were at an advanced stage about how best to co-operate in contesting the 2014 election, with a view to creating coalitions at a provincial level and, ultimately, at the national level.
This comes as academic Mamphela Ramphele is poised to announce her political plans on Monday.
During a post-State of the Nation address briefing by opposition parties on Friday, the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko said it was common knowledge that the opposition had formed a multiparty opposition forum based in Parliament.
“Here in Parliament, we have forum that is led by opposition leaders which engages on matters we can co-operate on. Although we all have individual mandates and are individual parties, we meet very regularly, with the chairperson Mr (Mosiuoa) Lekota, to discuss things that are happening in Parliament and legislation that we believe we can find common ground on,” she said.
There were also talks taking place at “party level about how we (opposition) can contest elections in 2014”, and “what the right vehicle is”.
“I think parties differ quite strongly as individual organisations, and it’s quite a long way, as Mr Lekota said, to reach a conclusion. What is important is that given the fact that we are able to work together on issues in Parliament, it’s clear that given the opportunity, we could make a formidable coalition government,” Mazibuko said.
She said that the intense speculation about Ramphele starting her own party also provided the opposition with an opportunity to take votes away from the ANC, and create “coalition governments at provincial level and ultimately at national level”.
“It is a very slow process, I don’t know if it will be wound up by 2014… The road to 2014 is a short one, but you never know, there might be some agreements that have been finalised by then,” Mazibuko added.
The ACDP’s Cheryllyn Dudley said “... it is important that opposition parties are able to model the fact that they could work in co-operation or in coalition in terms of forming some kind of government”.
Lekota, a former cabinet minister who now leads Cope, said opposition parties were speaking “increasingly in common language on a number of growing issues”.
“We must get our country’s opposition forces united against these elements, which are dangerous for our country and our society,” he said.
It was time to give the voters an opportunity to see the “seriousness and urgency of situation in the country to contain the deterioration under the ANC”.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said it was important for voters to know “what will happen” if the ANC got less than 50 percent of the vote.
“And surely that’s what we’re trying to convey – that we are ready and we are willing to be responsible for the benefit of SA to work together,” he said.
But the ANC is less than impressed by the opposition ganging up on it. Chief whip Mathole Motshekga noted “the interesting development within the parliamentary opposition politics”.
“It is abundantly evident that the leaders of these parties are battling to recapture political relevance in our fast-paced, evolving political landscape, and have thus sold their souls,” he said.