Johannesburg - The Congress of the People remains strong despite 19 prominent people leaving the party, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota
said on Wednesday.
"Cope will be stronger than it was in the last elections. Those who have left allege that they left because the party policy has changed", Lekota told journalists at a briefing in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.
Some of the 19 who left for the African National Congress had defrauded Cope.
"Some of them have not accounted for the misused funds in a number of provinces," Lekota said.
A forensic audit would be conducted and some of the 19 could face criminal charges.
"They think they can just walk away after leaving Cope, they would face criminal charges in different courts in the country," said Lekota.
On Monday Cope national spokesperson Johann Abrie said most of the 19 were "unemployable outside politics".
"Most of the people on the list of 19 are unemployable outside of politics so they decided to knock on the door of another political party because they came to the end of their employment at Cope," said Abrie.
"They were very, very happy to collect huge salaries based on their association to Cope and waited until the last week to change... that speaks volumes about the character of those people."
Abrie was responding to a media release on Monday by the 19 throwing their weight behind the ANC.
The list of names on the statement are Suzan Berend, Onel de Beer, Beryl Ferguson, Nonkhululeko Gcume, Juli Kilian, Nick Koornhof, Mampe Kotsi, Commissioner Makhubela, Lorraine Mashiane, Pakiso Mbhele, Paul Mnguni, Zola Mlenzana, Connie Mosimane, Hilda Ndude, Mlindi Nhanha, Phumelelo Ntshiqela, Sanna Plaatjies, Leonard Ramatlakane and Kennett Sinclair.'They want jobs'
At a briefing on Wednesday, Cope deputy president Willie Madisha said there was a "particular role that the governing party is playing".
He said the 19 left Cope to join the ANC because they wanted jobs.
"They want jobs. That is why they moved out of Cope, those people were not on our election list."
"They are being paraded on TV to give people an impression that Cope is falling apart," said Madisha.
Cope has another faction led by former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.
The party is a breakaway formed when former president Thabo Mbeki was forced to resign in a power struggle with President Jacob Zuma as head of the governing ANC.
Lekota, Shilowa and Madisha were among the first high-ranking ANC officials to leave.