In a move designed to maximize the opposition to South African president Jacob Zuma, Mamphela Ramphele will join the Democratic Alliance (DA) to contest the spring elections as its presidential candidate.
That will pit Ramphele (pictured above), the widow of one of South Africa’s most well-known anti-apartheid fighters in the 1980s, directly against Zuma, who leads the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Ramphele founded AgangSA, (‘Agang’ means ‘to build’ in the Northern Sotho language) in February 2013 as a center-left alternative to the ruling ANC. Little did she know at the time that she would ultimately lead South Africa’s main opposition party into this spring’s parliamentary elections. Voters, sometime in April or May, will elect the 400 members of the National Assembly, the lower house of the South African parliament, which will indirectly elect South Africa’s president. Zuma’s ANC currently holds 264 seats, and it’s still expected to win the next elections, which means that Zuma — for now — remains an almost certainty for reelection.
Ramphele’s decision to join forces with the Democratic Alliance is a strategic gain for the party, whose leader is Helen Zille (pictured above, yesterday, with Ramphele), the premier of Western Cape province and former mayor of Cape Town. Under Zille’s leadership, the Democratic Alliance has made steady, if slow gains. It won 16.66% and 67 seats in the April 2009 elections, its best-ever national result. In the May 2011 municipal elections, it won 23.9% of the national vote and started to gain more notice in South Africa’s top urban areas.
Though Zille, a former anti-apartheid activist and journalist, already seemed set to improve on her 2009 and 2011 performances, her union with Ramphele gives South Africa’s opposition hope that it really might find a way to break open the ANC’s two-decade lock on power. Continue reading DA announces Ramphele to lead South African campaign