Cope set to cosy up to DA

2014-05-16 08:34

Cope could cooperate more closely with the DA if a proposal by at least three of its provinces is accepted by the leadership this weekend.

Cope is set to mull its future during a three-day meeting in Joburg, starting today, after it was left with only three parliamentary seats after the May 7 general elections.

City Press understands from insiders, who wished to remain anonymous, that the ANC, the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had already informally approached Cope to work together more closely.

A source said there is a strong push from members in the Free State, the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape – three of Cope’s strongest provinces – for closer cooperation with particularly the DA.

Party members were unclear about what form of cooperation they had in mind, but it could be similar to the deal signed between the Independent Democrats and the DA before the 2012 local government elections for the two parties to merge their parliamentary caucuses and to run joint elections campaigns.

Cope members could also work closely with the EFF in advising them about the rules and processes in the legislatures, as the EFF is new to government.

Many of Cope’s MPs in the party before the election resisted a move closer to the DA, as they were in talks with the ANC about crossing to the party.

“Previous negotiations [with the DA] could not succeed because many of those crossing were opposed to it because they were already in talks with the ANC,” a Cope member said.

“Some people in the leadership structures said it would take 20 years to rebuild the party. Do we have the appetite to persevere for 20 years?” a Cope member said.

He said the PAC had managed to keep going on the legacy of one of its former leaders, Robert Sobukwe. “Do we have to work 20 years for the legacy of [Cope leader] Terror Lekota?” a member is said to have asked.

Party spokesperson Johann Abrie confirmed there would be a meeting this weekend but he could not comment on possible discussions about coalitions. “I have not seen the agenda of the meeting, and the executive committee will only be deciding on it in the morning. I assume it will be on the agenda,” he said.

It is unclear who would fill Cope’s three seats in Parliament, but insiders said it was likely that Lekota, Willie Madisha and secretary Deidre Carter – the top three on the list – would take up the seats.

The party is set to lose more than 90% of its funding from Parliament in line with the amount of seats it had lost. A source close to the party said it had signed leases for the rental of offices and equipment stretching into the next year, which the party could now ill afford to pay.

DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane wasn’t immediately available for comment but it is understood that the DA does not have objections in principle to working with Cope.

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