Zille: Not my best week in politics

Zille and Ramphele's short-lived political relationship came to an abrupt end on Sunday.

Agang SA's Mamphele Ramphele and Democratic Alliance's Hellen Zille kiss after announcing the two parties' merger on 28 January 2014. Picture: Roderick Macleod via @RodMacleod.

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille says she won't identify the mysterious donor who offered to fund AgangSA if the two parties merged.

Zille and Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele's political relationship came to an abrupt end on Sunday after the DA said Ramphele reneged on a deal to be the main opposition's presidential candidate for the upcoming elections.

This came only days after last week's bold move where Ramphele and Zille said their parties would join forces ahead of the elections.

Zille has since described Ramphele as a backtracker who can't be trusted, while Ramphele has accused the DA of rushing her into a decision.

The DA leader said Ramphele needed the money desperately and people were only prepared to help her with her debt on condition she linked up with the DA.

"Ramphele has got massive debt and that's why she needed a lifeline. But she also realised that getting into the political space is much more difficult than she thought."

Zille said Ramphele asked her for a lifeline in November last year.

"She was desperate for it and pushed me very hard to announce it as soon as possible."

The DA leader said Mamphele was playing a game of cat and mouse.

"She told the DA one thing, her supporters another thing and the media a third thing. She kept agreeing to press statements then denying she had agreed to them."

Zille said the final straw was when Ramphele accused the DA of bad faith.

"I eventually came to the conclusion to run an election campaign with someone who would do that."

She however adds that the real problem was that Ramphele couldn't take the people around her in Agang with her.

She says she has learnt a big lesson from the situation and is moving on.

"The bottom line was I wanted to do this merger because I thought Ramphele as our presidential candidate would be able to destroy perceptions once and for all that the DA would bring back apartheid if we came back to power. That perception is tragically still rife among many people."

Zille says it won't be possible to retain her friendship with Ramphele.

"It is sad, but you live and learn."

Meanwhile, Zille says her party now has to decide who to put forward in Ramphele's place.

"I am quite keen to stand where it makes sense for me to stand in the DA and I have currently accepted nomination to be the premier candidate in the Western Cape."

Watch Zille explain her point of view:


Ramphele says the positive reaction following her short-lived union with the Democratic Alliance (DA) affirms her belief that her party is on the right path.

Ramphele says she doesn't want to become embroiled in what she sees as inappropriate details of who said what and when during merger talks with the DA.

She says a series of media statements since she agreed to stand as the DA's presidential candidate are detracting from the rare opportunity of a real conversation of building something new for South Africans.

Ramphele will be standing as Agang's presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.


Meanwhile, Ramphele told Talk Radio 702's Xolani Gwala on Monday evening that she is not ruling out a future partnership with the DA.

She said her main priority is what's in the best interest of South Africa and finding a way to merge parties in a way that all members can accept, "Because if people don't feel included, you have a problem."

Asked if there was therefore still a possibility that she or Agang would still end up with the DA, she said, "Well, I remain open. I could end up with the DA tomorrow or next year."

Ramphele says this would have been possible if more time was given.

"I entered this process with integrity. The only impediment was my being pressed to make an immediate decision, which is illegal in terms of Agang processes. I'm entitled to make a decision for myself but I'm not entitled to bind Agang."