Cope returnees cause havoc

2012-06-20 13:23

The ANC’s efforts to woo back former leaders and members who defected to the Congress of the People (Cope) may hurt the ruling party.

The party’s Northern Cape chairman John Block said some “Cope returnees” were going back to their pre-Polokwane conference factions.

“Many of them are coming back to their old factions and destabilising the movement,” Block told City Press.

The growing problem was acknowledged at the ANC national executive committee’s meeting of 23-24 March.

At the meeting, members noted: “There is a new tendency in the Northern Cape of the Cope returnees who are delegates to the conference, with some also standing for positions when they are still on probation.”

In the minutes, NEC members urged Northern Cape leaders to abide by the party’s constitution – which says that returnees should be treated as new ANC members.

Block said: “Somebody who comes back and is elevated to a position sends a wrong message. People think ‘I can defect and when I come back I’ll get a position,’” he said.

The returnees should rather be assigned tasks that would “test their loyalty and commitment” to the ANC, Block said.

“They need to earn their positions. We must give them tasks like doing door-to-door campaigns and helping with recruitment so that they relearn the culture of the organisation.”

ANC Northern Cape provincial secretary Zamani Saul was equally scathing about Cope returnees. In his organisational report, Saul called on the province to “cautiously manage” the “influx” of people returning to the ANC from Cope.

Their conduct “borders on being agents provocateurs,” he said.

“Some just continue to be on a destructive path, behaving like mercenaries to destroy the ANC from within,” said Saul.

Block said there were also problems caused by the ANC trying to get Cope leaders to return and agreeing to conditions – like offering them leadership positions – to do so.

“Some of them come back with conditions and if we can meet those conditions we do that. There are those who said, ‘Give me a position’, and we refused.”

In his political report to last week’s provincial congress in the Northern Cape, Block listed among the province’s challenges the failure to “reinforce our decision on managing people that left the ANC to Cope who are now returning to the ANC”.

He said the ANC should “confront the leading role some of these returnees are playing by leading factions in our structures”.

An ANC NEC member said Cope returnees were being used to bolster factions in the party for its elective congress in Mangaung in December.

Former ANC provincial secretary Neville Mompati is one of the prominent politicians who defected back to the ANC. Cope is an official opposition party in the Northern Cape.

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