Shrewd stragety

2009-01-17 00:00

As election season opens, the Congress of the People has dealt itself a strong hand and is playing it cleverly. Doubtless it will attract some votes from the existing supporters of opposition parties, but if Cope is to score heavily in the coming poll it will have to poach support from within the ranks of the present ruling party. This it is addressing with some shrewdness.

Not for nothing did the African National Congress try to block the new party’s adoption of names aligning it with the high ideals of the struggle and Freedom Charter. The problem for the ANC, and the advantage for its rival, is that Cope can project itself not so much as a new party but as one that promises a return to those ideals. And indeed, in the years since it came to power the ANC has done much to tarnish its own image and Cope is now homing in on every blemish. With service delivery creaking and the infrastructure deteriorating, Cope can highlight the damage done by nepotism and political patronage and offer to move away from the ANC’s race-fixated interpretation of affirmative action and towards competence. With corruption rife and the ANC seemingly determined always to protect its own against scrutiny, Cope promises to restore the Scorpions. So the list will go on.

Despite Epainette Mbeki’s appearance at a Cope meeting, attendance at party rallies does not yet hint at any massive swing, but the confidentiality of the polling booth may yield a different story. Cope’s Trojan horse is already within the gates.

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