Opposition party leaders gathered this week to build common ground and thrash out an action plan following their mass march against President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria.
All 12 opposition parties represented in Parliament were invited to the meeting, convened by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and held at a hotel near OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
Discussions centred on the anticipated motion of no confidence debate in Parliament and joint plans for Freedom Day next week.
Building support for United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa’s proposal for a national summit and convention – which would culminate in a united blueprint to fix the country – was also on the agenda.
Details are set to be announced at a joint media briefing of political parties with leaders of civil and religious society in Soweto at noon today.
The formation of a “people’s movement and its programme of action” would be announced, according to a media advisory.
“Recent events have united South Africans behind safeguarding the country and the people’s future from lawless looters. Ultimately, it is our unity as a people that will ensure that the process of building a better South Africa remains on the agenda,” said the advisory.
According to African Christian Democratic Party secretary-general Raymond Tlaeli, a joint rally was the preferred choice for the April 27 public holiday, instead of another march.
“There was also broad consensus that a convention was a good idea as a way forward,” said Tlaeli, who was present at the meeting. The UDM and EFF were among other parties that attended the meeting.
“The discussion is not just about one issue – Jacob Zuma – but thrashing out a way to bring normality to government, to root out corruption and fight joblessness,” he said.
Maimane was cagey about specifics ahead of the media briefing, saying that consultations were still under way.
It was vital for opposition parties and other leaders in society to cooperate in efforts to articulate an alternative leadership for South Africa, he said.
Building unity around common principles was a central target.
“The question is: how do we realign the politics of South Africa in a post-national liberation era and achieve opportunities for all? How do we build a non-racial country and a capable state? How do we open our economy for growth and uphold our Constitution? We must anchor the discussion around key things to go forward, and we don’t need to overcomplicate things.”
Opposition parties – many with contrasting political and economic views and visions – have rallied together with a sense of urgency in the wake of Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle and the downgrading of the country to junk status. However, meetings per se are not new and are part of an ongoing programme within the opposition.
Tuesday’s meeting followed a march in Limpopo against state capture. Billed as a “multi-party” affair, it ended up being a DA march led by Maimane, with other opposition parties absent.
Over recent weeks, various initiatives have been proposed for national dialogue and a Codesa-type movement by leading figures, including Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.