Cope fizzles out

2014-04-27 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Senior leaders set to leave en masse and rejoin the ANC

Congress of the People (Cope) MPs are expected to announce a mass exodus from their party during Parliament’s Freedom Day celebrations tomorrow.

About 80% of the party’s 36-member caucus are set to leave for the ANC, most of them returning to the party they left five years ago.

Cope MPs this week met with their counterparts in the ANC to inform them of the move, a Cope and an ANC MP told City Press.

In the past week, a number of Cope members in provincial legislatures defected, while party heavyweight Smuts Ngonyama also handed in his resignation letter.

In it, Ngonyama wrote that the vision Cope had for a new society “was counterpunched and undermined from within” and the situation had “regrettably become untenable”.

Many Cope members have left over the past few years due to the ongoing fights between Mosiuoa Lekota and former deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa over leadership.

Shilowa has since backed United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.

MPs who are leaving but wanted to remain anonymous until the announcement was made also said Lekota’s leadership style and relationship with another MP with whom he now has a child were at the centre of the party’s troubles.

“This relationship has influenced decisions. One man’s dictatorial position has brought the organisation down,” one MP said.

Another said Cope’s caucus had not convened once this year.

Three MPs – Leonard Ramatlakane, Juli Kilian and Nic Koornhof – have already publicly agreed to appear on the ANC’s election lists for Parliament.

Other MPs said they wanted to wait a little longer before making the announcement because they feared losing parliamentary pensions.

Only seven of the party’s MPs are back on its election lists, including Lekota, Willie Madisha, Dennis Bloem, Luzelle Adams and Deidre Carter.

Not all of the defecting MPs will have jobs after the May 7 general elections.

“People are not expecting positions, they are expecting to work. The ANC can’t promise things,” one MP said, adding that ANC secretary-general Gwede

Mantashe and his deputy Jessie Duarte were “extremely careful”.

“They are not promising anything. They told us: ‘We are here to look after our members that are here all the time, we can’t make promises to people coming back.’ People are going back because they really want to make a difference. They understand they cannot make a difference from the ­outside.”

Another MP was also unsure about new roles but said they would go where the ANC deployed them.

But the MP had learnt a lesson and would not be faithful to any particular leader. “It is the organisation first, no more individuals.”

According to the MP, returnees had a lot to contribute to the ANC, because “the experience of being in opposition helped us ­understand policies and policy options”.

Communications specialist JJ Tabane, who returned to the ANC in 2011, said: “There is no generalisation to say if you went away and came back, this is what will happen.”

Former youth leader Anele Mda was, for example, deployed to the presidency when she returned, while Lunga Kepe became the chairperson of the Gauteng Film Commission, he said.

“They don’t come back and become some kind of Cope caucus. They integrate like anyone else,” Tabane said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.