Opposition parties eye closer cooperation
Leaders of opposition parties will gather in Cape Town in March to talk about forming a united front in next year’s municipal elections, the Independent Democrats (ID) said on Monday.
A one-day conference organised by the ID for March 20 follows months of exploratory talks with the Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (Cope) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) about taking on the African National Congress together in the polls.
DA leader Helen Zille and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa have both confirmed they would attend, while Cope has yet to commit.
“I will be there. I have been talking to [ID leader] Patricia de Lille about this for a long time,” Zille said, but refused to comment on recent progress on what the parties have termed a realignment of opposition politics.
She told the Mail & Guardian last week that there were divergent views on what form closer cooperation should take, and suggested Cope was internally divided on the issue.
Cope general secretary Charlotte Lobe told the South African Press Association the party would discuss its position on cooperation talks at its strategic planning conference this weekend.
“Only then will we announce a decision,” she said.
A planning document for the conference proposes setting up subcommittees with two members from each of the four parties, including one to draft common policy and another to plan for the 2011 local government elections.
The document also proposes that the parties begin to work together actively in Parliament, starting in the upcoming session, which opens next Thursday.
De Lille has made clear that a merger of the four parties was not on the cards in the near future, but that they were looking at ways of contesting the local polls together with a view to repeating the exercise in the next national elections in 2014.
Floor-crossing legislation adopted in 2008 has bedevilled the possibility of an outright merger because politicians now lose their seats if they swap allegiance.—Sapa