South African opposition parties to merge

By Andrew Harding
BBC News, Johannesburg

  • Published
President Jacob Zuma (file image)
Image caption,
President Jacob Zuma's African National Congress party remains the dominant force

Two South African opposition parties have announced plans to merge in a bid to form a united front against the ruling ANC.

The deal means the tiny Independent Democrat party will merge with the main opposition Democratic Alliance.

The deal is the start of a more ambitious plan to challenge the ANC and its overwhelming grip on power.

Corruption, infighting, and a failure to deliver on its election promises, have left the ANC vulnerable to attack.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is the country's main opposition party but much of its support comes from white voters around Cape Town.

It wants, and needs, to broaden its appeal.

Sunday's deal sees the DA more or less take over the tiny Independent Democrats who have strong support among mixed-race voters.

On its own, the merger poses no threat to the ANC but it points the way towards the next, crucial, deal between the DA and the Congress of the People (Cope).

Cope split from the ANC before the last national elections.

It has since been torn apart by factional fighting but still has the potential to be a serious threat to the ANC.

The ANC, with its liberation struggle credentials, remains the dominant force here.

But if the DA and its white voters team up with Cope and its black supporters, South Africa's fractured opposition could finally become a serious threat.

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