National

Floor-crossing chief whip plays ANC and Cope

Andisiwe Makinana

Cope chief whip Nkosinathi Kuluta is still in his Eastern Cape legislative seat almost four weeks after defecting to the ANC.

Cope chief whip Nkosinathi Kuluta says the ANC has always been his home. (Gallo)

Almost four weeks after Nkosinathi Kuluta, the chief whip of the Congress of the People (Cope) in the Eastern Cape legislature, was paraded in the presence of President Jacob Zuma at an ANC rally as an ANC member, he still occupies his Cope seat in that legislature.

While addressing the Eastern Cape ANC manifesto launch in Dutywa on January 26, Zuma announced that the ruling party was welcoming back 100 people who had defected from Cope and the United Democratic Movement.

Among them were Kuluta and Cope's provincial communications head Nkosifikile Gqomo, who both left the ANC after its 2008 elective conference in Polokwane.

But the Mail & Guardian has established that, almost four weeks later, Kuluta has not resigned from Cope and is still trying to keep Cope MPLs in line as the party's chief whip.

Mixed message
When contacted on Thursday, he confirmed that he was the party whip, but when reminded that he joined the ANC about a month ago he ended the call and didn't respond to further calls.

Cope sources said this was the extent to which the party was in disarray. "A member leaves the party, is paraded on TV doing so, but the following day he comes back to the office without explanation and nothing happens to him," said a Cope insider.

The party's provincial secretary, Archie Ralo, said they did not consider Kuluta to be a Cope member.

"When we heard on [January] the 26th about him being paraded, I called him in my capacity as provincial secretary and he confirmed [that he had joined the ANC]. On the 27th he was quoted in the Daily Dispatch giving his reasons for leaving Cope."

Ralo said they waited for a formal resignation, even writing to Kuluta requesting the same but to no avail.

Ralo said they were surprised to hear that the ruling party publicly welcomed him. Kuluta was invited to a meeting of party whips this week, in which he participated as Cope chief whip.

Rubber arm
A day after the ANC manifesto launch, the Daily Dispatch quoted Kuluta as saying he came to the decision to rejoin the ANC after being persuaded by Zuma and provincial ANC secretary Oscar Mabuyane to go back to the ANC.

"The ANC has always been my home but I am one of those people who made a mistake after the Polokwane conference and thought that Cope was the solution to problems that we had in the ANC at the time.

"I have since realised that to think that any other political party can solve the problems faced by the country was a mistake," he was quoted as saying. He said Zuma invited him to his home and asked why he had left the ANC.

"That has been haunting me since that meeting. Cope infighting and divisions were the last straw."

Cope national spokesperson Johann Abrie said the party would remove Kuluta from the legislature.


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