SAfrican ruling party blasts opposition merger

Associated Press
South African anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele, left, greets Helen Zille, right, the head of the South African Democratic Alliance political party during a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. The former anti-apartheid activist who was close to Steve Biko and was a World Bank executive merged her party Tuesday with South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, and will be its presidential candidate, challenging the ruling African National Congress whose popularity has eroded amid corruption scandals and other problems. (AP Photo/ Nardus Engelbrecht)
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South African anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele, left, greets Helen Zille, right, the head of the South African Democratic Alliance political party during a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. The former anti-apartheid activist who was close to Steve Biko and was a World Bank executive merged her party Tuesday with South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, and will be its presidential candidate, challenging the ruling African National Congress whose popularity has eroded amid corruption scandals and other problems. (AP Photo/ Nardus Engelbrecht)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's ruling party is scoffing at the merger of two opposition parties ahead of elections this year, saying the coalition's choice of presidential candidate is a "'rent a black'" ploy to present a multi-racial front to voters.

Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of the African National Congress, made the criticism Tuesday after Mamphela Ramphele, a former campaigner against white rule who was also a World Bank executive, said she would run for president. Her small Agang party has merged with the larger Democratic Alliance, whose roots lie in South Africa's tradition of white liberal opposition to apartheid.

Mantashe says Ramphele's candidacy is "what we call 'rent a black' and 'rent a leader.'"

Under the ANC banner, Nelson Mandela became president in South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994.

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