Many donors wanted Agang SA, DA merger: Zille

04 February 2014 - 16:05 By Sapa
DA National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane and DA leader Helen Zille during a media briefing. File photo.
DA National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane and DA leader Helen Zille during a media briefing. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Bongiwe Gumede

Many donors wanted the Democratic Alliance and Agang SA to merge to become a formidable force against the ruling ANC, DA leader Helen Zille said.

"We have many, many donors, many individuals and many voters who wanted this," Zille told Sapa.

"Many wanted to know why we don't get together with [Agang SA leader Mamphela] Ramphele... they [donors] were asking why we were different parties."

She said many donors wanted a strong opposition party to defeat the African National Congress in this year's general elections.

Zille was responding to a report in The New Age newspaper that a mystery international donor was key to the failed merger.

The newspaper quoted Ramphele as saying: "A donor pushed the DA and Agang SA together."

Earlier, Zille told John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 that she would never be part of such a deal, but then said she knew who the donor was.

"Well I was certainly not going to consider accepting any money for merging, that's absolutely the bottom line," Zille said on the show.

"You know I would never do that, I don't go in for those kind of deals..."

When questioned about the donor, Zille told Robbie to ask Ramphele. When pressed further if she knew who the donor was, Zille said: "Yes I do... I don't think it's my job to tell anyone."

Zille said the only reason she wanted the merger was to change the perceptions of South Africans.

"The bottom line was that I wanted to do this merger because I thought Mamphela Ramphele as our presidential candidate would... destroy perceptions once and for all that the DA would bring back apartheid if we came to power," she told Robbie.

"She [Ramphele] had asked me for a lifeline in November last year which is when we reopened the negotiations. She was desperate for it, she pushed very hard for us to announce it as soon as possible..."

In a tweet on Tuesday, Zille said: "It was not only one donor that put pressure on Mamphela. It was every donor. They want a united, strong opposition."

Earlier, DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said The New Age's report was far-fetched.

"There can be no donor that can force us to make such a decision. There never has been and there never will be."

Agang SA chief operating officer Andrew Gasnolar also denied the report.

"No, there isn't such a donor. There was no transaction. There was no international donor brokering this alleged transaction."

He added that there were, however, many South Africans encouraging Agang SA to work with other parties to strengthen the opposition against the ruling party.

Last Tuesday the DA announced Ramphele would be its presidential candidate for the elections. Confusion arose on Friday when Ramphele said she had not agreed to become a DA member. On Sunday evening the DA said Ramphele had backtracked on their agreement.