When Mamphela Ramphele launched her new 'party political platform' on 18 February 2013 , the headline of COSATU's response was spot on: "COSATU sees no future for Agang". Just how right we were was proved today, less than a year later, with the announcement that Ms Ramphele has agreed to be the Democratic Alliance's presidential candidate in the general election and that the DA and Agang structures are to be "integrated". She has found her true political home in the party of big business, exactly what we would expect from someone who was a Managing Director of the World Bank from 2000 to 2004 and the Chairperson of Gold Fields from 2010. As COSATU prophetically said at the time she started Agang: "Her economic policies are totally indistinguishable from those neoliberal views of the Democratic Alliance , who want to free the market economy so that it can exploit the workers more ruthlessly and increase the profits of big business." "How seriously can we take someone," we asked, "who has just stepped down as head of a big, ruthless exploitative mine employer, when she talks of our 'legacy of the exclusionary economic and political systems that continue to characterise the primary sectors of mining and agriculture? ... Are the World Bank and companies like Gold Fields not perfect symbols of those 'exclusionary economic and political systems' she now condemns? Why did she not condemn such systems when she was working for them?" DA leader Helen Zille says that there was "no better person" than Ms Ramphele to lead their election bid, but very few ANC voters will be fooled by this move. The DA's policies remain just as bankrupt, including lowering entry-level wages for young workers, weakening the laws which protect workers' rights and attacking the trade union movement. Let us never forget Zille's chilling warning that the government will never emulate the levels of growth shown by countries like China , unless they stand up to COSATU. The DA supported the starvation wage levels paid to clothing workers by the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce (NCCC) employers, when they were paying machinists a weekly wage of between R180 and R280. This is the party which, in their last two national election manifestos, have promised attacks on workers' wages and conditions of employment. In 2004 they called for a second-tier of workers whose wages would be set at a level equivalent to the state old-age pension. What is that but poverty pay? In 2009 they called for a six-month probationary period during which employers will face no punitive penalty for dismissing under-performing workers. The ANC has a far superior track record of struggle and we are far more likely to begin the economic transformation of our country under a movement forged in the furnace of the liberation struggle than one led by a former World Bank bureaucrat and boss of a mining monopoly.
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