Dandala: There's no leadership struggle in Cope

There is no struggle among the leadership of the Congress of the People (Cope), newly appointed presidential candidate Mvume Dandala said on Wednesday.

Dandala was speaking at a Cope rally in Germiston, his first public address since his nomination as party presidential candidate.

Dandala dismissed assertions that he was brought in to resolve differences between the party’s president, Mosiuoa Lekota, and his deputy, Mbhazima Shilowa.

“We took a conscious decision to have a strong team in Parliament and they want me to lead that team,” Dandala said.

In order to hold the party’s representation in Parliament accountable, Lekota would spend his time speaking to people on the ground and facilitating communication between the people and their representatives in Parliament.

“Lekota will devote his time to mobilising people on the ground and opening channels of communication between Parliament and [those] people on the ground.

“The days are gone when people in Parliament are there for five years and are accountable to no one,” Dandala told a crowd of about a thousand people to rousing applause.

He said the party stood by its dream of a united South Africa, where the “boundaries” of race, gender and age were crossed.

“There are even some who try to play that card that destroyed this country for many years, the card of tribalism ... we want to say categorically that our dream is a dream of one nation.”

Dandala emphasised that a Cope government would have zero tolerance for corruption and said his party would “bring back honour to the public service”.

“We are saying the problem in our country is a problem of delivery, of people who are lacking in commitment ... we will bring back honour to the public service.
The value of honesty must be the cornerstone of the government of the Congress of the People,” Dandala said.

Dandala delivered a message from Lekota to the audience, telling them that Cope was ready to govern and that there was “no turning back”.

The leadership of the party present included Shilowa as well as candidates nominated for the party’s national and provincial lists.

Shilowa said all South Africans had the right to the political home of their choice.

“No one has the right to deny us the right to jobs ... the right to be members of trade unions ... the right to be rectors at universities ... the right to be made members of boards in companies.

“Because if we don’t set it right, today it might be Barney Pityana, tomorrow it will be you,” he said.

He was referring to allegations that the African National Congress and its alliance partners were behind an attempt to get Pityana to resign from his post at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Members of the National Education and Allied Workers’ Union marched to Unisa’s Pretoria campus to demand the resignation of Pityana on Tuesday.

The union accused Pityana of mismanagement and of reserving Unisa’s facilities for Cope’s use.

Addressing the audience earlier, former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said she had retired from politics but that Cope kept hounding her to become active in the party.

Speaking mostly in isiXhosa, Mlambo-Ngcuka thanked Cope members for their support but said she was with the party to support it and she did not have to be in a leadership position.

She said she wanted to help the party to grow and to bring about change.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said fighting poverty should not be about alleviating the poverty of the leaders, it should be about alleviating the poverty of the people.

In her first public appearance as a member of Cope, the former deputy president praised the young candidates selected by the party to represent it in national and provincial parliaments.—Sapa

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