Reconciliation day?

2010-12-16 00:00

AFTER a day spent heckling in and outside confrence rooms, the Congress of the People (Cope) leadership could not have chosen a better date to meet the challenge the fledgling party faces.

Having failed to get its elective conference to start on the scheduled day, it is now up to the party leaders to use this year’s Reconciliation Day to get their party back to the drawing board.

Supporters of the two main protagonists, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosioua Lekota, tell a story of a party riven by deep divisions. Each faction sang about the other’s preferred choice as though they were a mortal foe.

The week had started with talk that the party be split because of what some members had said were irreconcilable differences between the two factions. Which is why Reconciliation Day must be more than a hint for anyone who gets elected — if the process gets that far today.

Though the battle between Shilowa and Lekota has been reduced to a personality clash, closer inspection suggests that the party will have a different take depending on who gets elected.

Lekota’s flirtation with the DA — particularly over labour brokers, his stance on affirmative action and black economic empowerment, places him on the right of the party.

Shilowa has styled himself as a grassroots man committed to working-class politics.

In crude terms, a Lekota win will most likely pave a way for a closer relationship with the DA and further estrangement from the ANC.

A Shilowa win on the other hand will see Cope co-operate and vote with the ANC and a possible fallout with the white middle-class who contributed to the more than 1,4 million people who voted for the party in the last general elections.

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