Bloem braced for party meetings

2008-12-12 00:00

SECURITY will be tight around the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, where the Congress of the People (Cope) will hold its three-day conference starting from tomorrow.

This is to prevent possible clashes between members of the African National Congress (ANC) and members of the new party.

The two rival parties will both have huge gatherings in Bloemfontein and the events are expected to draw more than 10 000 people.

There have been a number of clashes between members of the two parties since some ANC members broke away from the ANC to form Cope and the police want to make sure that it does not happen in Bloemfontein.

Cope’s official launch will start tomorrow in town, while the ruling party will hold its rally at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, also in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the formation of ANC’s Umkhonto Wesizwe.

South African Police Service spokesman Director Phuti Setati said members of the crime combating unit will be deployed in Bloemfontein to maintain peace.

“We have a plan in place to ensure that there is peace. Events of this nature need proper planning to ensure that they go smoothly. I must stress that we do not foresee any violence because the events will be held in different parts of Bloemfontein,” he said.

Cope spokesman Sipho Ngwema said his party had received information that ANC members were planning to disrupt their conference, arguing that one of the reasons why the ruling party decided to have its rally in Bloemfontein was to cause disruption.

“We are receiving information that certain members of the ANC are planning to spoil our conference. The level of intimidation is also very high. We will be in town and they will be in the township and we do not want them to come to our venue,” said Ngwema.

This was, however, denied by ANC spokeswoman Jessie Duarte yesterday who said the ANC have since 1964 celebrated December 16.

“Cope must stop telling lies. The ANC will have its own rally and its members will not disrupt anyone. We have been celebrating this day since 1964,” said Duarte.

Ngwema also said his party was jubilant that the Pretoria High Court had dismissed an application by the ANC to stop them from using the name Cope to contest the elections next year.

The conference will officially start tomorrow and finish on Tuesday.

“During these three days, we will refine draft polices that we have just released. We will discuss and adopt the constitution of the party so that we can build a proper organisation,” Ngwema said.

The party will also look at how it will approach the upcoming general elections.

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