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Defectors unemployable outside politics, says Cope

Sapa

Cope says most of the 19 members who defected to the ANC on Monday had come to the end of their terms and could not find employment outside politics.

Juli Kilian's name was on the list of Cope members who will now support the ANC. (David Harrison, M&G)

Most of the 19 people on the Congress of the People (Cope) list who came out on Monday in support of the ANC are unemployable outside politics, according to Cope national spokesperson Johann Abrie.

"Most of the people on the list of 19 are unemployable outside of politics, so they decided to knock on the door of another political party because they came to the end of their employment at Cope," he said.

"They were very, very happy to continue to collect huge salaries based on their association to Cope and waited until the last week to change – that speaks volumes about the character of those people."

Abrie was responding to a media release on Monday from 19 Cope members throwing their weight behind the ANC.

He speaks on behalf of the faction aligned with Mosiuoa Lekota after Lekota and Cope co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa fell out over a leadership dispute.

The members said the Cope caucus, who met on Monday in Parliament, apologised to the 1.3-million people who voted for the party in the 2009 national elections.

"Due to a series of events and trends over the past five years, we have to accept that Cope as a credible alternative has run its course," they said.

"Eighty percent of the Cope parliamentary caucus has not submitted their nominations for Cope's 2014 election list processes. We could not align ourselves with the poor political leadership and cannot continue to mislead South Africans about a prospect for anything better."

End of days
The members would remain Cope MPs until midnight on May 6, when their term in office ends.

They said they believed the ANC was the "most effective vehicle" to bring about change and transformation in the lives of the poor.

"In honour of the late Tata Madiba, the majority of the Cope caucus will vote and campaign for a strong mandate for the ANC to ensure that the agenda for a better life for all South Africans will gain new momentum.

"We call on those who support us and all South African voters to vote ANC to give new impetus to the transformation agenda and to build a united, prosperous nation," they said.

The list of names on the statement are Suzan Berend, Onel de Beer, Beryl Ferguson, Nonkhululeko Gcume, Juli Kilian, Nick Koornhof, Mampe Kotsi, Commissioner Makhubela, Lorraine Mashiane, Pakiso Mbhele, Paul Mnguni, Zola Mlenzana, Connie Mosimane, Hilda Ndude, Mlindi Nhanha, Phumelelo Ntshiqela, Sanna Plaatjies, Leonard Ramatlakane and Kennett Sinclair.

But Abrie said half of the people on the list have not renewed their membership with the party for more than three years, therefore they could not be chosen as Cope candidates for Parliament.

He said the other half were called to ANC headquarters at Luthuli House and were made "generous financial offers".

"They milk the cow for as long as they can and then defect just before the elections. It is tacky and unprincipled."

Groundhog day
Abrie said this was the sixth or seventh time in two weeks that this same group of people had resigned.

Earlier in April, Shilowa said he would support the United Democratic Movement in the run-up to elections.

They party was formed when senior ANC members left after former president Thabo Mbeki was forced to step down in a power struggle with Jacob Zuma over the position as head of the governing party.

It had enough support for 30 seats in Parliament in the first election it contested in 2009.

Its presidential candidate, Mvume Dandala, resigned afterwards and the party split into factions not long thereafter over who its true president was.

Lekota was a minister of defence and a chair of the ANC and Shilowa had been a premier of Gauteng before the breakaway. – Sapa

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