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Staff Reporter, Sapa-AFP22 Feb 2009 09:18
Congress of the People (Cope) deputy president, Mbhazima Shilowa on Saturday called on ANC members to vote for the newly formed party.
“The ANC is not our enemy they are our political opponents. That is why we still have friends in the ANC and we say to these friends ...
‘We want you to vote for Cope’,” he said addressing an election rally at the Jabulani amphitheatre in Soweto.
Shilowa and former ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama formed part of the leadership delegation at the rally.
Cope president Mosioa Lekota as well as the party’s new candidate for the South African presidency, Mvume Dandala, were not present, nor was Cope’s second deputy president, Linda Oddendaal.
The rally, which was meant to start at 9am, kicked off after noon with Shilowa and Gauteng’s Cope chairperson, Mlungisi Hlongwane, addressing the half-filled amphitheatre.
Hlongwane thanked the supporters for coming and assured them the party would win the April 22 elections.
‘The Union Buildings are moving further and further from the ruling party, and closer and closer to Cope,” he said.
‘We are ready to take away the 62% given to the ruling party by mistake.
Shilowa explained the party’s manifesto to the audience, urging them to recruit others to join the party.
“I want you all to become organisers,” he said.
Speaking in at least six of South Africa’s 11 official languages, Shilowa, said: ‘People often ask if we can lead because there is so few of us and they say we have no experience in leading.
‘Well tell them Shilowa said we have led before, we know how to lead. The hospital being built here was budgeted for while we were leading here. [The] Gautrain was developed while we were leading Gauteng.”
Meanwhile, a team of “Scorpions” made a guest appearance at the rally. The crowd screamed with delight as three black vehicles bearing number plates reading “Scorpions” drove into the stadium. Inside the cars were men clad in black leather jackets and ear pieces. Cope has vowed to bring back the elite crime-fighting unit should they be elected into government.
Student shot at rally
Meanwhile, a student was shot and injured on Saturday during a riot at a Cope rally at the Walter Sisulu university in Butterworth.
Captain Jackson Manatha said the student was shot in the buttocks and three other people were injured after a scuffle between Cope and the South African Students Congress (Sasco) members.
“The person who shot the student was wearing a Cope T-shirt. It’s alleged that the gunman shot the student after they started the argument,” said Manatha.
The violence broke out at about 2pm between the two parties after Cope held the meeting at the hall on the campus without informing the institutions’ political structures.
“Sasco members told the Cope members to leave their campus because they invaded the campus without their knowledge. The Sasco members assaulted the Cope members when they refused to leave the hall,” he said.
Two police officers and a woman were assaulted during the riot.
“The officers were beaten up by the students while trying to restore order. We don’t know if the woman who was injured was a student or a Cope member.”
Two police vehicle and one Cope vehicle were damaged during the incident. - Sapa
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