Cope speaks out on ANC defections
Johannesburg - Cope said on Tuesday that the departure of a number of members was the "first honest thing" those leaving had done in a long time.
It said former government spokesperson JJ Tabane, lawyer John Ngebetsha, youth leaguer Lunga Kepe, actor Hlomhla Dandala and musician Zwai Bala, who left to join the ANC, had been part of a campaign to destroy the party.
"These individuals formed part of the core of the self-styled 'Shilowa Express' who have waged a sustained campaign from with the party to destroy it," said Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Phillip Dexter, referring to the party's co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa.
"Since the departure of others of their comrades in conspiracy, Cope has grown in leaps and bounds," he said.
The party, which was formed as a breakaway group from the ANC, has since split into two factions which are aligned with each of its co-founders - Mosiuoa Lekota and Shilowa.
Which Cope will show
The party has since been in turmoil over which one of them is its actual leader.
Shilowa has been barred from Parliament. His faction also failed to meet an Independent Electoral Commission deadline for the submission of candidates' names for the May 18 local government election.
Cope-Shilowa has since indicated it will not contest the elections. Cope-Lekota has said it would.
One of the defectors, Dandala, is the son of former Methodist Bishop Mvume Dandala, who was revealed to be Cope's presidential candidate in the 2009 elections.
Another defector, Ngebetsha, represented Shilowa in his legal challenges to Lekota's leadership.
Meanwhile, the Cope Youth Movement expressed happiness that the group had left and said Tabane and Ngebetsha had seen Cope as a cash cow.
Lekota and Shilowa left the ANC with deputy defence minister Mluleki George to start Cope when former president Thabo Mbeki resigned from the ANC amid pressure relating to President Jacob Zuma's now dropped corruption charges.
At the time, Lekota was minister of defence and ANC national chairman and Shilowa was Gauteng premier and involved in the planning stages of the Gauteng Rapid Rail Link which became known as the "Shilowa Express".
They famously announced their "divorce" from the ANC on radio and after getting the third-most votes in the 2009 elections, and a brief period of stability, their media coverage has been dominated by the leadership dispute.
George was expelled from the party in March.