Opposition parties hold cooperation talks

Eight opposition parties held another round of cooperation talks on Wednesday and formed a committee to mull ways on working together in Parliament, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa said.

Holomisa said his party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (Cope), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Independent Democrats (ID), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) had agreed to meet on a regular basis to ensure “multi-party democracy is strengthened and the threat of one-party dominance averted”.

He said they had set up a working group, which included their chief whips, to come up with proposals on how they could cooperate in Parliament, and had agreed on issues they would raise in a meeting with President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.

These include his nomination of Judge Sandile Ngcobo as chief justice, the Donen Commission’s report on shady oil deals with Iraq’s former regime, service delivery protests and the need for transparency on party funding.

Sources close to the talks said the parties were tentatively working towards an eventual merger, but that the process would take a long time.

Opposition leaders met twice in July to discuss working together in the 2011 municipal elections and beyond.

This month, parties took a joint stance against Zuma’s nomination of Ngcobo for chief justice, accusing him of undermining the Constitution by failing to consult properly with the opposition and proposing Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke as an alternative candidate.

Commentators have been sceptical about their hopes of creating a united front against the African National Congress, warning that it would prove stillborn because of disagreement over substantive issues and that a clash of egos was inevitable.—Sapa

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