BY GEORGE MATLALA, MOGOMOTSI MAGOME and SHANTI ABOOBAKER
Johannesburg - The DA’s decision to parachute AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele into the party’s presidential candidacy is backfiring.
The Sunday Independent has reliably learnt that there are moves to give Ramphele an ultimatum to either take up the membership of the DA or be dumped as its presidential candidate.
On Friday night Ramphele issued a statement saying she would not join the party.
But several leaders of the DA are said to be upset by her statement and intend to raise the matter at the party’s federal council later this month.
The council is the party’s highest decision making body between conferences.
It is understood that the decision to make Ramphele the DA’s presidential candidate has rattled the DA as much as it has AgangSA, especially after her open criticism of the party.
DA Gauteng South leader Khume Ramulifho said Ramphele’s statement declining DA membership violated the party’s constitution, which requires a presidential candidate to be a member.
“She needs to be clear whether she is with us or not. People are asking us what is going on. We are telling them that we will give them feedback after the council,” he said.
“This is creating an impression that the DA doesn’t have candidates internally,” he added.
Gauteng South is the party’s biggest region.
DA Gauteng North leader Solly Msimang said there were mixed emotions about the leadership’s decision on Ramphele and was expecting a heated debate on the matter at the council.
“It is definitely going to be debated, it will be an open and frank debate. It’s going to be a difficult debate,” said Msimang.
DA leader Helen Zille said on Saturday she was aware of unhappiness about the decision, and was also expecting it to be debated at the council.
She said Ramphele could not legally be presidential candidate unless she was a member of the party.
Another senior leader in the DA, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said the unhappiness about Ramphele’s presidential candidacy ran up to the upper echelons of the party’s leadership.
“This is a person who put it in black and white that even her children would not vote for the DA. Internally it has done a lot of damage.
“There’s a feeling that there was not much consultation, especially as this involved a person who had expressed such controversial views about the party,” he said.
He added that Ramphele was not bringing much to the party, as she had failed to successfully launch her own political party.
“Personally I don’t think she is bringing much, politically we will not benefit much from this,” said the leader.
Yesterday The Saturday Star reported that Ramphele had had trouble securing donors because they believed her party’s message was the same as the DAs.
On Friday, Ramphele said the DA was not telling the truth in saying she will be its member.
“This is not true. Nor did I agree to any such statement. It is AgangSA’s position that the technical committee must first complete its work. I am leader of AgangSA, and AgangSA will continue its work to restore the promise of our freedom,” she added.
The remarks are at odds with the DA constitution and have threatened to throw off her relationship with the party, which was announced amid much fanfare earlier this week.
Clause 2.2.4 of party’s constitution states: “Any member of the party wishing to make themselves available for election as any office-bearer in the Party in a regional council or higher structure or as a public representative, must be a member in good financial standing with the party.”
Following the announcement by the two parties, Ramphele came under fire from some senior AgangSA members who charged they would not follow her to the DA.
Gauteng AgangSA leader, Andries Tlouamma, continued talking tough, referring to the DA's “bankruptcy of leaders because it has “come (to) take our leader” .
“If they (the DA) want a relationship with AgangSA they can't merge with her alone,” Tlouamma told The Sunday Independent.
He said members of the party wanted Agang to remain independent and for Ramphele to remain the party’s presidential candidate with her photo next to the party logo on this year’s ballot.
But Tlouamma said AgangSA would continue to engage the DA along with other political parties.
DA federal chairman, Wilmot James, said he and DA chief executive officer Jonathan Moakes were likely to serve as his party’s representatives on the technical team, which is tasked with “integrating” the parties' structures.
“It’s quite a complicated procedure. There are constitutions from both sides. The technical committee has to find a way of legitimising (Ramphele's presidential) candidacy,” James said.
Selfe said there was no way that she could appear as both the DA and AgangSA’s presidential candidates on the ballot come the general elections because it was “illegal”.
“In terms of the way in which it unfolds, we just have to deal with it as it comes,” James said.
AgangSA communications director Mark Peach said the party would now wait for the recommendations of the technical team which Ramphele and the DA said this week would be set up in the coming days.
“It’s not about merging the two organisations. It’s not about taking structures and (submerging them in DA structures) - that would be short-sighted.
“The DA has what it has, and AgangSA has its volunteers,” Peach said.
He said AgangSA had about 100 000 volunteers.