ANC braces for a likely exodus at Cope

2010-07-25 11:14

The ANC has embarked on a low-level ­campaign to recruit members of

the Congress of the People (Cope) amid growing fears that the country’s

third-largest party is about to collapse.

Last week, Cope Eastern Cape leader Andile Nkuhlu resigned and

there is talk that others – MP Anele Mda, top party ­strategist Onkgopotse JJ

Tabane, North West party leader Nikiwe Num and general secretary Charlotte Lobe

– may follow.

Num and Mda, sources said, were ­considering job offers from police

minister Nathi Mthethwa and police chief General Bheki Cele.

“Mda told them she would resign from Cope if they give her an

appointment letter,” a source said.

On Thursday Mda denied meeting with Cele or Deputy Police Minister

Fikile Mbalula, but confirmed there were ANC leaders who wanted her to return to

the ruling party.

A Cope congress national committee member close to Cope deputy

president Mbhazima Shilowa and Tabane said Tabane had informed Shilowa of his

­intention to resign last Sunday, the same day Lobe wanted to quit.

City Press has seen a text message in which Shilowa pleaded with

Tabane and Lobe not to leave.

Tabane was unhappy that Cope had failed to appoint him as head of

the party’s ­communication unit and was worried that his business, Oresego

Holdings, might not get deals from government and private companies aligned to

the ANC.

“Tabane feels that Cope is not taking off.

We are under pressure to

disassociate from Cope,” the source said.

A Shilowa confidant said that many leaders in Cope were showing

signs of succumbing to the strain caused by the leadership fights and were

considering ­going back to the ANC.

“Many of us are not well. We made a ­mistake spending too much time

trying to build an ANC-like party”

The ANC was also luring Cope’s young business owners, including

youth leader Malusi Booi and congress national ­committee member Lunga Kepe, a

close ­ally of Nkuhlu.

Kepe’s marketing and advertising company, Red Cherry, is said to be

struggling to get contracts from the public broadcaster, the SABC, which is

controlled by the ANC.

“Malusi has taken a lot of strain. He even has health issues,” the

source said.

The party was in a precarious financial state, which is why it

broke the law to fund last month’s chaotic conference in Centurion, Pretoria,

using parliamentary money.

In his resignation letter, Nkuhlu cited ill health and the deeply

divisive leadership battle between Cope president Mosiuoa ­Lekota and

Shilowa.

“Cope has descended into gutter politics and has become a

monumental failure to the goodwill, hopes and aspirations of the 1.3 million

supporters who voted for it in the last national elections,” wrote Nkuhlu, a

­Shilowa supporter.

Another Cope leader said the financial problems in the party

resulted because of infighting.

Lekota, Shilowa and ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu could not be

reached for comment.


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