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Parties may join forces to fight ANC in 2014 poll

Nickolaus Bauer

South Africa's opposition parties are investigating the possibility of contesting the 2014 general elections under one political umbrella.

Opposition parties are investigating the possibility of contesting the 2014 general elections under one political umbrella after President Jacob Zuma's address. (Gallo)

"It's not a perfect relationship, but we're talking," Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said during a press conference on Friday, following President Jacob Zuma's State Of The Nation address on Thursday.

"The important thing is the critical reality that we need to work together."

The DA, Congress of the People (Cope), Independent Democrats, African Christian Democratic Party, Freedom Front Plus, Inkhatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Christian Democratic Party, Pan Africanist Congress and Azanian People's Organisation all form part of the "multiparty opposition forum" that seeks to unseat the ruling ANC in next year's election.

Using the president's address as a point of departure, the group said the time had come for South Africa to experience political change.

"We have reached a critical stage in our democracy," said Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota.

"We cannot stand by and witness the degradation of our country any longer. We must harness all of our might to stop the rot."

All parties present described Zuma's speech in dire terms and presented it as proof that he and the ANC had no positive vision for South Africa's future.

"In spite of the length of the president's speech, we did not hear anything which could suggest that the president is providing the country with the necessary leadership demanded of him," IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi said.

Unclear details
The grouping have committed to discussing the possibility of uniting forces, although details remain unclear as to how and under what conditions the formation of one political umbrella would occur.

It is hoped the ANC's majority of 65.8%, won in the 2009 general election, will fall below 50%, providing the opposition formation a majority mandate to govern in a coalition or otherwise.

"Voters need to realise what the options are if the ANC gets less than 50% of the vote in 2014. It's not about how it will happen but why," Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said.

Lekota added that even though the parties may still end up contesting next year's election separately, they all had the same vision of a more prosperous South Africa than now.

"Whatever voters decide, as long as they don't vote for the ANC, they will be strengthening opposition politics and strengthening our democracy. Whatever happens after, we will see," he said.  

This formation first came into being when they brought a motion of no confidence against Zuma in 2012.

The ANC blocked the motion from being tabled in Parliament after which the formation took the matter to the Western Cape High Court, in search of an order to have the motion heard immediately.

It ruled against it being heard, saying it could not interfere in a parliamentary matter.

Although that motion has now lapsed in terms of the current parliamentary calendar, the group says they will bring the motion forward in the current session of Parliament.

"That motion will be heard and we won't beg the ANC to do our jobs," said Mazibuko.


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