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Johannesburg - Cosatu in Gauteng threatened the DA with violence on Friday, warning its leader, Helen Zille, that she “will regret the day she was born” if the party marched to Luthuli House on Tuesday.
But as the rhetoric over the party’s planned march to the ANC’s headquarters got personal and threatening, the DA was dealt another blow when the Joburg metro police refused the party permission to march.
The planned march by the official opposition was to see Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele make a first appearance in her new guise as DA “presidential candidate”.
The DA has vowed to appeal in the Magistrate’s Court against the decision of the metro cops to deny them permission to march, in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.
“We have a constitutional right to assemble, demonstrate and picket if we so wish,” said chairman of the DA federal executive James Selfe.
He said the party had submitted its application well in advance of the stipulated 14-day window period for permission.
Cosatu Gauteng general secretary Dumisani Dakile, however, issued a stern warning to the DA that its members were prepared to “unleash a massive action in defence of the revolutionary house on any given moment”.
“We are warning them that they must stop with immediate effect on their provocative and empty stance or they should be prepared to face the consequences,” said Dakile.
“The DA will regret the day they were formed and Helen Zille will regret the day she was born should such an action be taken by them.”
Zille on Friday said she was tempted to laugh off a statement like this, because it was full of jargon that was a century old.
“But it is actually a very serious matter. We are not a country in the midst of a violent civil war, with ‘revolutionary’ and ‘counter-revolutionary’ forces. We are a multi-party constitutional democracy, with a bill of rights,” she said.
“Our right to protest peaceful is being undermined by threats of violence by other people (who oppose the march).”
Zille said the DA had a right to march to demonstrate the difference between the ANC’s promise of six million extended public works programme jobs, and the party’s promise of six million real jobs.
Given that the ANC Youth League has warned that its members would “defend” the ruling party HQ, this raises the prospect of a violent confrontation between ANC supporters, and the DA marchers could be caught in the crossfire.
Yesterday, Ramphele and Zille said the AgangSA leader and other members of her party would be welcomed by the DA on Monday at a press conference in Joburg to mark the 24th anniversary of the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
This follows the unveiling of the deal on Tuesday to field Ramphele as the DA’s top candidate in the coming elections.
With the DA’s candidate selection process closed, it is believed there is no hope for further additions to the opposition party’s lists to accommodate senior Agang members. However, a technical task team has been established to thrash out the details of the merger and will begin its work on Monday.
Sapa reports, meanwhile, that AgangSA’s head of communications Thabo Leshilo’s contract has been terminated in the aftermath of the merger deal, struck by Ramphele before she could properly consult her party.