Talking?manifestos: Cope

2014-03-23 14:00

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Cope secretary-general Lyndall Shope-Mafole tells Carien du Plessis that the party is on the right route and a real threat

How is this manifesto different from the previous one?

There aren’t any major differences and that is why we referred to our 2009 manifesto. One difference is the challenges we said our country was facing are bigger today – the issues of corruption, mismanagement of government, finances and ethics.

Most people thought we were leaving the ANC because we were angry Thabo Mbeki was recalled [in 2008]. Because we were in leadership [Lyndall-Shope was an ANC national executive committee member at the time], we were aware of what was going on. This was probably not as obvious to the public then as it is today.

The promise to force candidates to declare their assets and criminal convictions, and be tax compliant by election day, was left out of the new manifesto. Don’t you believe in this any longer?

It is something we are committed to, but we didn’t have enough time to get our candidates to do this. We went to our congress in January and had to put in our candidates list in mid-March.

You say presidents, premiers and mayors should be elected directly. How will this improve leadership?

It will get South Africans much more interested and much more involved in the election of the person who is going to lead the country. Right now, 4?000 or 5?000 delegates get together and decide who the president must be.

Accountability will be to everybody, not just a political party. I don’t know what would have happened with the Nkandla situation if the president was directly elected.

You want to encourage coalition politics. Why don’t all the smaller parties merge?

Quite a few countries are governed by coalitions. People might care about the environment – for example, green parties. They should be in government because broader political parties may not be addressing environmental concerns as strongly. In South Africa, every day there are new parties, so the issue of coalitions become more practical. We work with other parties on the issues we agree on.

The Cope manifesto states that discussions should be had on land reform, restitution, market-based valuations and land administration. Does Cope not have a position on these?

We think the matter needs more discussion because clearly there have been some challenges. We need to stay constitutional. We won’t have massive land grabs, but the challenges are there.

What in your manifesto sets you apart from other parties?

It is a difficult question. If our country wasn’t in such a crisis, the manifestos would be different. Issues of health and education are common because things are so bad. South Africa deserves a better government and your vote can get it.

Some of your candidates left for the ANC this week. Did it disorganise Cope?

It is something we have been expecting. The nice thing about our lists is that branches don’t nominate you. It is about people signing declarations [that they are available]. So they didn’t declare and we weren’t surprised.

Do you think Cope will do better than it did in 2009?

We think so. Today we have structures in the provinces, unlike then. The challenge we face now is to convince those South Africans who supported us then that we are still on the right road. The fact that so many resources were put into breaking us says we are on the right route. We’re a real threat.

We have to reconvince those South Africans we have disappointed. Many South Africans now understand that what we said in 2008 was not just anger. We saw that the country was going to the dogs.

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