/ 28 November 2008

Peter Marais joins Cope

The Congress of the People (Cope) on Friday announced another four recruits in the Western Cape. They included former premier Peter Marais.

Marais declared at a press conference on Friday that ”Coloured people and white people must realise that Cope has created a new bridge for them to cross to join their black brothers”.

He added: ”Cope, to me, means the chance of a new beginning for all of us — a second chance in fact — hope for a new tomorrow and breaking new frontiers in search of a South Africanism that Alan Paton talked about, that is inclusive of everyone who loves this country.”

Marais ended his earlier political career mired in controversy. He became mayor of Cape Town following the local government election in December 2000 as a member of the Democratic Alliance (DA). He was forced from the position in 2001 by then-DA leader Tony Leon, who saw him as a political embarrassment. The move contributed to the New National Party (NNP) pulling out of the DA.

As a member of the NNP, Marais became premier of the Western Cape from December 5 2001 to June 3 2002,when he resigned following allegations of sexual harassment. He later founded the New Labour Party (NLP), attracting only 0,67% of the Western Cape provincial votes in the national election in 2004. In 2006, he was cleared of corruption charges stemming from party funding in 2002.

Marais started his political life in an organisation fighting for the economic advancement of the coloured community. Curiously, it was also called the Congress of the People.

He moved to the Labour Party — which supported the National Party in the coloured House of Representatives in the tricameral Parliament — later joining the National Party, and after its merger with the Democratic Party, the Democratic Alliance. After his New Labour Party was crushed in the elections it disbanded.

Since then he was been working at a hospice, looking after Aids patients.

Joining him to help Cope, were two other former National Party and Labour Party MPs, Rodney Rhoda and Anwar Ismail, and Cape Town city’s interim head of legal services Ben Kieser. — I-Net Bridge