Johannesburg - Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s decision to merge AgangSA with the DA was unilateral, with angry party members calling for her return to Agang – or resign.
These were the sentiments of seven provincial leaders of Agang this morning when they addressed a press briefing at the party’s headquarters in Braamfontein.
The group, led by Gauteng chairman Andries Tlouamma, told the media that they did not recognise the merger sealed in Cape Town on Tuesday, and that – if necessary – they were prepared to contest the national elections later this year on their own.
One of the provincial leaders, Donald Tontsi, said: “We were not consulted. Dr Mamphela Ramphele remains our leader. There was no mandate from this organisation, Agang, to enter into any merger with any other political party.”
The leaders who gathered at the party headquarters displayed a show of unity and were adamant that Agang’s independence remained intact. “We are giving our leader an opportunity to consult with us immediately. She is still our leader. She must put us through her decision to join the DA,” Tlouamma said.
The leaders said they only became aware of the merger through the media.
Tlouamma also denied reports that the party was undergoing financial difficulties which were likely to hamper their participation in the upcoming national elections.
“News that we are broke is just nonsense. We are here at the party headquarters. As you can see we have also paid our rent. We will campaign as Agang in the upcoming elections. We are also going to introduce our national leadership soon after our national congress, which will be held very soon,” Tlouamma said.
He was adamant that the decision to merge the two parties was not a collective one.
“A decision cannot be made by an individual. We will allow her to talk to us as our leader. No leader has a right to take a unilateral decision. She must first tender her resignation,” Tlouamma said.
After their press conference, just under 100 members of Agang broke into song and condemned DA leader Helen Zille for allegedly causing turmoil within their party.
Divisions were clear as angry members of Agang were vehemently opposed to the merger with the DA.
“I am allergic to the DA. But I will wait for a decision of Mamphela to come and talk to us,” Tsontsi said.
On Tuesday, eight Agang leaders and senior party officials told The Star they would not accept Ramphele’s move.
Pule Monama, who sits on 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 service delivery problems (sic)”.
“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. I personally believe this is a betrayal of the trust people put in her,” he said.
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.”
A senior Agang official said Ramphele had “miscalculated horribly”, adding 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.
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,” he said.