Cope names team to lead party into elections

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the Cope conference in Bloemfontein

The interim leadership of the Congress of the People were on Tuesday confirmed in their positions. The leadership group was extended to 12 people.

Mosiuoa Lekota was installed as president, with Mbazima Shilowa as deputy president. Cope organiser Lynda Odendaal was named as second deputy president.

The rest of the top leadership consists of Charlotte Lobe as general secretary with Deirdre Carter as her deputy.
Lyndall Shope-Mafole was named as head of international relations, Hilda Ndude was appointed treasurer and Mluleki George has become the national organiser.

Smuts Ngonyama was elected as head of policy, Philip Dexter as communications chief, Mlungisi Hlongwane as head of elections and Zarina Ebrahim as the head of these sectors.

Boesak throws lot in with Cope
Former struggle icon Allan Boesak caused a stir on Tuesday when he announced he would be joining the new political movement.

Boesak walked into the hall, flanked by his wife Elna, and then mounted the stage.

In a style reminiscent of United States president-elect Barack Obama’s mantra of “Yes, we can”, Boesak repeated the phrase ‘there has never been a time like this” a number of times.

Boesak is an outspoken critic of the ANC, but has until now denied any involvement in Cope.

‘Today my wife and I join the Congress of the People. Those who know me since the days of the United Democratic front, will know I have never asked what position I will have, I have only asked how I can serve my people.

‘I have not asked what will Cope will offer me once Cope gets into government. I have only asked that whatever promises we make to people must be fulfilled,” he said.

Boesak was expected to take up the position as the second deputy president, but Odendaal was chosen because the party wanted a woman in the top leadership tier, said KwaZulu-Natal leader Nhlanhna Buthelezi, in announcing the leadership team.

Boesak said he could no longer serve in the ANC, because it had become too difficult to defend the party in public.

He devoted the rest of his speech to involvement in the struggle against apartheid, recalling the Sharpeville massacre and the Soweto uprising in 1976,.

‘Our hopes have not been answered, our dreams were trampled upon, our yearning for justice has not been fulfilled. We still don’t have a unified country. Our ideals have been replaced by disillusionment.”

‘Cope must be the new vision for South Africans to build a new home for all,” he said.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice.
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