KZN MPLs join Cope

2009-02-10 00:00

The first high-profile defections at the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature level were announced by the Congress of the People (Cope) yesterday.

They are ANC member of the KZN legislature George Sithole and National Democratic Convention (Nadeco) KZN representative Mhlabuyalingana Mthuli. A third defector is another Nadeco member, national MP Chris Ngiba.

The defectors were welcomed during a press briefing held by Cope in Durban yesterday. The announcement of the defections was supposed to have been made by Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota in Groutville on Friday, but announcement was cancelled after Lekota failed to arrive.

Sithole, who also chaired the social development portfolio committee, said that his “conscience did not allow him to remain in the ANC”. “I felt I was no longer loyal to the ANC,” said Sithole.

Sithole has been a long-standing member of the ANC and spent 12 years on Robben Island as a political prisoner.

Ngiba, who was also the provincial chairman of Nadeco, said a leadership crisis in Nadeco prompted him to join Cope. He said that he saw Cope as the only alternative.

Cope’s provincial spokesperson, Siyanda Mhlongo, said the new members will play a critical role in building a strong organisation.

“We believe that by joining Cope these leaders have once more demonstrated that indeed Cope is a home for all South Africans,” said Mhlongo.

The ANC issued a statement yesterday welcoming Sithole’s resignation. “The ANC is not surprised by [Sithole’s] resignation. His resignation will have no impact on the functioning of the ANC as he had become a liability more than an asset to the organisation,” said the party in a statement.

“It must be remembered that Sithole joined the ANC voluntarily and he has resigned voluntarily,” said the ANC.

The ruling party said that it is false that Sithole had been sidelined by the ANC.

“However, the ANC knew for some time that he was clandestinely working against the ANC. The ANC wishes him good luck,” the party added.

thandom@witness.co.za

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