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Sunday, August 2, 2009

South Africa Opposition parties in unity talks

Published:Aug 02, 2009

Unity talks between opposition parties are underway in bid to challenge the ruling party at the polls, they said on Sunday.

The Congress of the People, Democratic Alliance, the United Democratic Movement and Independent Democrats have met to discuss their "re-alignment", ID leader Patricia de Lille said on Sunday.

Another meeting was expected to take place within the next few weeks.

According to Sunday’s City Press, 11 leaders from Cope and the DA met in Cape Town on July 21 and held "talks about talks" as part of efforts to jointly challenge the administration of President Jacob Zuma.

Another meeting between Cope leader Mbhazima Shilowa, ID leader Patricia de Lille and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa was reportedly held on July 7, where it was proposed that "a meeting among the leaders of opposition parties should be held" to discuss how to unseat the ANC.

According to De Lille: "There is a need for such a getting together of parties to present a united front to the country and give hope that we’ll work together to ensure proper accountability of government... we are quite happy about it."

In a speech to the DA’s Mpumalanga Congress on Saturday, party leader Helen Zille said in order for the new political force to be created, leaders who were "big on vision and courage but small on ego pride" were needed.

"South Africa needs leaders who will seize the day, and who will put the country ahead of their own status."

She believed leaders of the country’s opposition parties embodied these characteristics.

"But in order for a new vehicle to be successful, it will have to be held together by much more than a desire to win power from the ANC. It must share a vision, a set of values that grounds its vision and a policy platform that gives meaningful expression to its vision."

Describing the realignment of opposition parties as "very encouraging", Holomisa said they had previously informally discussed the matter with Shilowa.

"I don’t know what kind of animal this will be, but voters made it clear that they would like to see two strong political parties at a centre stage.

"South Africans are yearning for strong alternatives... I’m happy political leaders are prepared to talk about it now."

The debate, he said, had been raised by the UDM as early as 1999, but did not make any progress as the then National Party was absorbed by the ANC.

Meanwhile, not wanting to go into detail about the meetings, Cope spokesman Phillip Dexter said reports about the process would be made available from time to time.

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