In the latest blow to the embattled Congress of the People (Cope), Sello Moloto, the party’s Limpopo chairman, has accepted an offer to become South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique.
Instead of rejoining the ANC, however, Moloto, the former Limpopo premier, has opted to leave active politics.
In a deal brokered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe after secret talks spanning more than a year, Moloto will be posted to Maputo at any time from next month.
Moloto’s associates maintain that he refused to agree to be paraded in front of cameras as the latest defector to return to the ANC.
They say he still believes in Cope but has lost interest in its activities because of the squabbles between rival leaders Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa.
Former Cope spokesperson JJ Tabane; former national congress committee member Lunga Kepe; former Gauteng chairman John Ngcebetsha and others were paraded in front of the media by the Gauteng ANC last week after they “returned home”.
“He would not agree to be paraded in front of cameras,” said one source. “He did that when he joined Cope because he was angry, but he has passed that stage. He is no longer angry; just disappointed.”
Moloto’s departure, weeks after that of his Northern Cape counterpart, Neville Mompati, suggests that Cope is inching closer to the political abyss.
Moloto was close to Lekota.
Sources in the international relations and cooperation department confirmed the Moloto offer, but said any agreement between Moloto and Motlanthe was secret.
Moloto declined to comment on Friday, but sources close to him confirmed that he sealed the deal with Motlanthe last week.
The ambassadorship has been vacant for almost a year.
City Press understands that Moloto is now finalising personal arrangements, such as getting someone to look after his three teenage daughters and others to take care of his cattle. He lost his wife, Ramokone, to cancer in July 2009.
Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the international relations department, said they were “not aware of the matter”. Phillip Dexter, Lekota’s spokesperson, said Cope also had no knowledge of Moloto’s move.