Boesak quits Cope, but would still pray for the party

2009-11-03 13:18

LEADER of Congress of the People in the Western Cape and

anti-apartheid cleric Allan Boesak quit the opposition party today, but promised

to continue praying that it “finds hope and vision again”.

“I have today informed the leadership of Cope that I am ending my

membership of the party and that I have tendered my resignation as a member of

the Western Cape provincial legislature with immediate effect,” Boesak said in a

statement. His letter of resignation was sent to the speaker of the house


“From the very beginning the party structures, such as they were,

were characterised by faction fighting, strife, pitched battles for political

supremacy and duplicity... At this point the party structures continue to be in


he said.

Boesak “expressly” said he did not want a leadership position in

Cope when he joined in December. “It was only after the severest pressures that

I conceded to assist the party in the elections.”

Deep resentment, he said, was caused within the party “by the

irregularities with the list process and the interim leadership situation

persisted and made normal work almost impossible.”

This is an apparent reference to reports of infighting between

Mvume Dandala – elected as Cope’s presidential candidate – and party leader

Mosiuoa Lekota.

Boesak said many “good, hard workers” in the party had been

suspended because they dared to criticise the leadership. “It seems that the mud

is rising. I have no desire to subject my family, myself or my calling to serve

our people to these sorts of indignities and destructive politicking.”

Spokesperson for Cope, Phillip Dexter, brushed aside Boesak’s

criticism, saying it was never going to be easy to launch a new political


“We’ve received his resignation with regret. He joined the party

when we launched... so obviously people had high hopes for his


“The kind of challenges he pointed out are ordinary challenges when

you are dealing with a new organisation.

“We wish him the best in his future endeavours,” Dexter told SA

Press Association.

Boesak’s resignation is not the first to hit the party that only

saw light of day late last year under the leadership of former ANC veterans

Lekota (former minister of defence), Mluleki George (former deputy minister of

defence) and Mbhazima Shilowa (former premier of Gauteng).

The three were all vocal supporters of former president Thabo

Mbeki, who was recalled by his governing party, the ANC, last year.

Two senior Cope leaders, Simon Grindrod (former party head of

elections) and Lynda Odendaal (former second deputy president), resigned in

recent months, expressing disappointment with the way the party was being


Cope is an opposition and the third-largest party by representation

in Parliament.

Boesak promised to “continue with my work in the civil society, in

the church and as extraordinary professor at the University of Stellenbosch”,

adding that “working for the integrity of this democracy of the people of South

Africa is what I have always been called to do”.

He said that he would return to work for the “globalisation

project” with churches in South Africa and Germany. “Here, as before, I can work

with dignity and purpose.”

In the meantime, he would continue to pray for Cope. “My prayer is

that Cope will find that hope and vision again and so fulfill the promise it had

made to the people of South Africa now almost one year ago.”

Boesak, who was convicted of fraud in 1999 but later got the

presidential pardon under Mbeki, recently released his autobiography, Running

with Horses: Reflections of an Accidental Politician, in which he maintains his

innocence in the fraud case.

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