| May 17, 2017

JOHANNESBURG, Saying that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is on the brink of following the example of other liberation movements in Africa which moved from liberators to oppressors, Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has called on the country's opposition to unite to defeat the ANC in the next general election in 2019.

Maimane, who is the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, addressed a media briefing at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Tuesday at which he recalled his years as a young black child in the township, who like many others was poor and without opportunities.

He said he did not have tuition money for university after completing matriculation, and had to help his unemployed mother sell eggs and shoes after school to save up for the fees.

We all did what we could in pursuit of our dreams and no matter how hard things got, we never stopped believing in a better tomorrow. Life wasn't easy for us, but my story is not unique and it is the story of so many young people in our country, kids of my generation and, sadly, the youth of today," he recalled.

"I entered into public life because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people and to make sure that every child has the opportunities to truly enjoy the material freedoms promised to them. I love this country with every fibre of my being and I know all of you do too.

Maimane hailed the ANC's role during the country's liberation struggle, saying the organization once embodied the country's hopes and dreams. However, he added, the governing party's popularity has been declining as it had continued to default on the aspirations of many South Africans.

Maimane claimed that the ANC had allowed corruption and greed, among other things, to thrive within its ranks, ultimately compromising service delivery to the poor. It was time that opposition parties put up a united front against the ANC, he said.

If we can make metro coalitions work, then we can make it work in national government too. We need to put all our energies into saving our country. I am prepared to work with all parties that share this goal and this includes those good people remaining in the ANC who have been moved by recent events to speak out about what is happening in their party. Today, I extend a hand of friendship to all of them. I want them to know that we are open to working with them in the future, in a new and re-aligned political landscape.

Maimane also weighed in on the Motion of No Confidence arguments which took place at the Constitutional Court on Monday.

"We heard arguments in court yesterday for and against a secret ballot in the upcoming Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma. My view is that we must do whatever it takes to get rid of this man; whether the court orders a secret ballot or not.

Maimane said he was already in talks with other opposition parties to deepen co-operation and he said chances of winning the 2019 elections could be maximized with a pre-election coalition agreement.

Political analyst Tinyiko Maleleke, however, says a coalition will require more than just political rhetoric.

They have to answer the question, 'what are they uniting for?' What brings them together must be more than just opposition to the ANC. Can they find ideological resonance between and amongst themselves; can they find positive programmes that they want to do together; what is it that they have in common either than opposition to the ANC? So, I think they will have to answer those questions. They will also have to deal with problems that they individually face. It doesn't mean because the ANC is weakened then the support will go to the opposition.

Maimane said the DA was willing to forge partnerships beyond politics, including those from labour, business, civil society as well as religious bodies.


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