More big names for Cope

2008-12-16 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — Alan Boesak, the church leader and former ANC Western Cape chairman, is joining Cope as a deputy leader.

Boesak is set to fly to the Congress of the People (Cope) launch conference here early this morning following intensive negotiations with interim chairman Mosiuoa Lekota, it was reliably learnt yesterday.

Earlier, a delay in announcing the leadership led journalists to ask if there was a tussle for positions.

Two more of former president Thabo Mbeki’s ministers — Thoko Didiza (formerly of Public Works) and Sydney Mufamadi (Provincial and Local Government) — are also joining the party.

This emerged when the ANC’s Free State chairman, Ace Magashule, told the media his party is not trying to hang on to the two and “others like them”. “Why would we stop them? If people want to leave, they must leave.”

He also said Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa, the faces of the party, are not its real leaders.

“It’s people like Didiza and Mufamadi who are behind Cope.”

Lekota was asked if there is a plan to ensure that leadership and succession within Cope will not tear the organisation apart.

Lekota said there is no contest. “We will agree among the interim leadership on possible candidates and put the proposals to delegates. We will go out of this conference more united than before.”

The media were surprised when a party report carried a proposal to retain the current leadership. This would mean they would remain at the helm for the next two years.

Cope’s interim secretary-general, Charlotte Lobe, said the current gathering is not an elective congress. For this to happen they would need branches to be audited, and to adopt a constitution that spells out how the leadership structure operates.

Some delegates felt that the leadership structures are not being decided because there are expectations that more big names from the ANC will be lured to join Cope. These are people seen as being able to attract votes and needed as the face of the party. One name being heavily punted is that of former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The Cope leaders keep dangling the possibility of big names from the ANC crossing over. Lekota said yesterday he expects many more people are going to jump ship.

“When an organisation asks its members to make pledges of loyalty, it means it senses it is about to lose them. People don’t like to be imprisoned, they will jump. Watch this space,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Cope itself, the report says there are disturbing reports that some members are acting as gatekeepers, not keen to allow others into the party.

Lokota said this gate-keeping has the potential of destroying the organisation and stifling growth. “This demon should be destroyed now because Cope is and should always be a home for all our people.

“We also note that there are those of us who only confuse participation with leadership. In this regard one is not serving in any leadership structures. This is misconstrued to mean exclusion.

All Cope members should understand that being a member or a leader only means serving, and not status.”

The secretary-general said airing these problems in a public document is intended to set the standard in Cope. “We want to tell no lies and claim no easy victories. We wanted to say to the conference these matters have to be dealt with now.”

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