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Cope unlikely to alter economic agenda

The Congress of the People breakaway faction of the ANC suggested on Sunday it would adopt many of the economic policies of the ruling party, including maintaining a strong state role to spur growth and fight poverty.

The African National Congress’s stranglehold on power is now threatened by a split and a corruption case hanging over its leader, Jacob Zuma.

Cope has been sketchy on what policies it would adopt at a national conference later this month. A draft policy framework released to the media on Sunday indicated few major departures from the current ANC agenda.

In the document Cope describes itself as a ”progressive” party that is neither on the left nor right of the political spectrum and is committed to pursuing former president Nelson Mandela’s dream of a non-racial democracy.

Like the ANC, fighting poverty and unemployment will be its key priorities and it vows to use an ”activist state” to redistribute income, boost skills, modernise the economy and spur growth.

It says, however, that it will be more accountable and democratic than the ANC, which it has accused of being corrupt, intolerant and disrespectful of the rule of law.

”We will serve them [the people] with humility and integrity and, above all, we will remain accountable to them,” Mbhazima Shilowa, an Mbeki ally and one of the party’s founders, said in a statement.

Shilowa has said tens of thousands, many former ANC members, have joined Cope since it was launched several weeks ago.

Zuma, who defeated Mbeki to win the ANC leadership last December, has dismissed the new party as irrelevant, but ANC officials have voiced concerns about the defections and urged the rank-and-file to continue supporting the ruling party.

It would be alarming to investors if the pro-business Mbeki wing of the ANC joined the rebellion, potentially swinging the balance of power within the ruling party further to the left.

There is also unease over Zuma’s strong backing from trade unions and the possibility he could go on trial for corruption.

A judge dismissed charges against Zuma in September and said there had been high-level political meddling in the case, a decision that spurred the ANC to force Mbeki from office. Prosecutors are appealing against the ruling. – Reuters

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Paul Simao
Guest Author

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