Debate from ROAPE Volume 29 Number 92
Party Disintegrations & Re-alignments in Post-apartheid SA
In June 2000, at a scenic game park near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, a group of academics, journalists and politicians got together under the auspices of the Politics department at Rhodes University to discuss the fate of and the prospects for opposition politics in post - apartheid South Africa. In the midst of the two-day conference, word came through that the Democratic Party (DP) and New National Party (NNP) had just cemented a pact and established the Democratic Alliance (DA) under whose banner they would canvass in the 2000 local government elections. Given the theme of the conference, this development tended to dominate the discourse with two views predominating. On the one hand, there were those who were positive about the development, not necessarily because they supported the politics of the new party, but more so because they felt it enhanced the prospects for serious political opposition, which, it was hoped, would have the effect of checking the drift to a one party dominant political system in South Africa (Giliomee, Myburgh & Schlemmer, 2001). On the other hand, there were a number of academics and political commentators who were concerned with the unprincipled nature of the alliance, and warned that the new party would soon collapse as it was held together by nothing more than an anti-ANC electoral pact, confined to support among minority racial groups (Maloka, 2001; Habib & Taylor, 2001).