Cope rally ‘forced to white suburb’

2010-03-08 00:00

COPE president Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota was forced to relocate his party’s rally to a venue in a “white” suburb after alleged threats and intimidation yesterday.

Cope, which split from the ANC, was supposed to hold a rally in Clermon­t to launch its two branches in the Durban west township. The party claims that threats by local ANC supporters forced it to move the rally to the former “white” suburb of Ashley in Pinetown.

Cope provincial secretary Philip Mhlongo said that last week they booked the Vezamafa Primary School sports ground as the venue to hold the rally, which was going to be addressed by Lekota.

“On Thursday, when our members were clearing the path for parking at the sports ground, ANC supporters wearing kangas with ANC president Jacob Zuma’s face, came and intimidated them.

“We also received a complaint from an eThekwini Metro Council official who hired the venue to us. He said he was being accused of being a Cope member …

“We also received ‘advice’ from Metro Police security officials, who said we must relocate to the KwaDabeka Hostel sports ground. We decided against their advice because that sports ground is situated inside the hostel, which is pro-ANC.”

Mhlongo said at the last minute, they decided to hire a private venue at the Ashley sports centre “in order to peacefully hold our meeting”.

“… What angers us most is the fact that it is not for the first time that our meeting was blocked in Cler­mont.”

On February 28, Mhlongo said, “we had to abandon our launch after axe-wielding locals invaded our meeting and demanded permission for holding the meeting in ‘their’ area.”

Sihle Zikalala said the ANC has no knowledge of such an incident and has not mandated anyone to disrupt Cope’s meeting.

“We strongly believe in free political activity and that anyone has a right to be part of any political party. If there are such reports, we believe Cope should take the matter to the police,” Zikalala said.

Addressing Cope supporters at a tiny rugby club hall yesterday, Lekota challenged the leadership of the ANC to condemn and disassociate the organisation from the alleged threats and intimidation of Cope members.

“During the apartheid era, our people could not hold their meetings freely because of intimidation and killings. Now, under the ANC government, the same is happening. If the ruling party pursue this route, many of our people will again lose their lives. We need to make it quite clear that the people of South Africa want their freedom now, here and immediately …” Lekota said.

Lekota also took swipe at ANC president Jacob Zuma following weekend reports that he failed to declare his business interests before the National Assembly.

“If the leader of the party fails to declare, what could be expected from the ‘boy’ [ANCYL president Julius Malema].”

The Cope leader revealed that his party supports the re-introduction of the constituency representation system for the election of members to the National Assembly.

An ox was slaughtered in ho­nour of Lekota’s visit to Clermont as he once lived in the area

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