OPPOSITION political parties have vowed to work together on issues of national importance in an effort to weaken the ANC ahead of elections in 2014.
Leaders from COPE, the DA, IFP, ACDP, Freedom Front Plus, APC and UDM addressed more than 200 supporters at a rally against the Protection of State Information Bill at the Booysen Park Community Hall in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
To loud applause, FF Plus MP Anton Alberts said: “The united future coalition can rule the country [in 2014] on behalf of the citizens.” He accused the ANC of “looking after their own” through its cadre deployment policy. “Your votes could bring a new coalition party into power in 2014,” Alberts said.
UDM provincial chairman Mongameli Bobani said: “[This] coalition of parties will be an unstoppable tsunami to unseat the ANC in 2014.”
COPE MP and Youth Movement president Nqaba Bhanga said: “We must work together as opposition parties in all issues important to us. But we are not forming one united opposition organisation, although we might in future work together in coordinating our campaigns. We are not advocating for a two-party state, we promote a multi-party democracy.”
DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip said it was “most likely” there would be a political realignment between now and 2014. This was because opposition political parties were starting to work together on issues of moral concern and values.
“This is exciting. Joining forces as opposition political parties creates an atmosphere where we understand each other and can identify issues to work on. We nearly made history in the Nelson Mandela metro in the last [municipal] election. We are about to make history in the next election,” Trollip said.
COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota said: “I must welcome what is the most improved cooperation between opposition political parties. I’m thrilled that the rally is held here [in Port Elizabeth] because Steve Biko was killed here. Matthew Goniwe was also killed here for opposing laws similar to the secrecy bill.
“Also this is the city where I was arrested more than in any other city.”
Lashing out at the bill, Lekota said: “[President Jacob] Zuma has never said the state is under threat. In his last speech [in Parliament] he said unemployment, poverty and education were in fact the biggest threats.
“We have been exposing their corruption day in and day out. The threat is to those who are embezzling state funds. We don’t need this legislation.”
The ANC made concessions on the bill on Thursday. These included, among others, a public interest defence clause to protect journalists and whistleblowers risking prison terms should they expose government’s shenanigans.
UDM MPL in the Bhisho Legislature Jackson Bici said: “Working together as opposition political parties we have got power to stop the bill. The arms deal, oilgate scandal and SAPS lease deal would not have come to light if the bill was enacted.”
DA federal chairman Dr Wilmont James said the bill was a plot to take the people’s voice away. “The ANC wants journalists to keep quiet when politicians steal your money. Over our dead bodies will we accept this.”