A revealing look into Cope

2010-11-17 00:00

MICHIEL le Roux’s account of his experiences as a Congress of the People (Cope) volunteer reveal a great deal about the troubled party and its failure to unify and move forward. In light of recent events, namely the removal of Mbhazima Shilowa as Cope chief whip, it is indeed evident that Cope is on a downward spiral.

The apt title effectively encapsulates what a typical Cope volunteer would have encountered. Le Roux, who was a successful Johannesburg-based banker, became increasingly interested in politics and decided to throw caution to the wind and quit his job. At the time, the 2009 elections were a few months away, and he thought it would be a great opportunity to join Cope — the controversial new ANC breakaway party.

Wrapped up in the excitement of the election, he was determined to make a difference and somehow quell the officious power of the ANC. However, his optimism soon dwindled. Internal power struggles, lack of funds (and poor management of funds that were available) as well as a general lack of structure and initiative made it almost impossible to form a strong, unified opposition to the ruling party. Le Roux’s skills were never used to full capacity, even though he persistently offered to help other members with numerous tasks. The rivalry between Shilowa and Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota created such chaos within the party that it eventually culminated in a violent outbreak at the 2010 Gauteng voting congress.

Politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea but Le Roux’s witty use of humour and his personal take on the inner workings of a South African political party make for an intriguing read.

Candice Quinton


Misadventures of a Cope Volunteer: My Crash Course in Politics.

Michiel le Roux


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