Announcement on new Cope leader expected

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Cope conference in Bloemfontein

A major announcement on a new Congress of the People (Cope) leader is expected on Monday night at the end of the second day of the inaugural conference of Cope.

Cope leaders are tight-lipped about the identity of the person, only willing to say it is a major leader in the African National Congress (ANC) who will be defecting to the new party.

The party decided in the morning session of the conference on Monday that its top six leaders will consist of a president, two deputy presidents, a secretary general, a deputy secretary general and the treasurer general.

The party decided to have two deputy presidents to ensure better gender representation at the top leadership level.

The first deputy president will be expected to deal with international issues and liaise with the international community, while the other will focus on domestic issues.

Former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was punted as a possible candidate for one of the deputy president positions, but despite Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and deputy leader Mbhazima Shilowa trying to convince her, she insisted that she did not want a leadership position in the party.

The other possibility for the major announcement that is being touted is that of Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who was the subject of struggle songs sung by delegates during the morning session. Delegates also sang songs celebrating former president Thabo Mbeki.

Delegates will on Monday night discuss the leadership issue in the party, which is expected to see the current interim leadership being permanently installed.

The top leadership structure will also have six members who will head committees for elections, international relations, security and communications.

In addition, three leaders from each province, including a Facebook region, will be elected to join the national leadership. The final leadership group will consist of 64 members.

Lekota on Monday confirmed that the membership fee for Cope will remain R30, despite complaints by delegates that the fee is too expensive.

”This organisation doesn’t have billionaires. These people [Cope members] pay annually more than that for soccer fan clubs.”

Lekota insists Cope must be ”carried by its members otherwise it can’t claim to be mass-based”.

Another senior Cope leader told the Mail & Guardian that poorer members will be asked to pay at least R10 while the rest of their fees can be covered by their branch, which will do fundraising events for that purpose.

The party’s earnings from membership fees is almost R13-million thanks to the 428 000 paid-up members.

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Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author
Mmanaledi Mataboge
Guest Author

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