Ex-tourism chief now Cope's election czar

Cope has beefed up its election machinery by appointing new organisers, including outgoing South African Tourism chief executive Mooketsi Mosola.

This follows criticism that the party’s election campaign is invisible.

Cope also said it was preparing to distribute 500 000 posters countrywide from this weekend.

Mosola, a Cope volunteer since its November convention, has been appointed to the election committee as elections manager. He resigned from South African Tourism last week to focus on the campaign. “I’m just a runner,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

Cope’s election campaign head, former South African National Civic Organisation leader Mlungisi Hlongwane, said all committee members were working full time. They include first deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa and national committee members Julie Kilian and Neville Mompati.

At South African Tourism, Mosola was responsible for developing global tourism growth strategies and making budgetary decisions.

Election posters bearing the faces of Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota and presidential candidate Mvume Dandala are expected to be up in all provinces by the weekend.

“The posters will state categorically that [Dandala] is the presidential candidate,” said Hlongwane. He said Cope is aware that it is unusual for the party’s president not to be its presidential candidate. “We have the task of educating South Africans about the kind of democracy we want to introduce,” he said.

Cope has pleaded lack of campaign resources and Hlongwane said the party would rely on all its members to help spread its message.

In addition to posters, pamphlets and T-shirts, it will step up its campaign through technology and door-to-door campaigns in “densely populated areas, which other political formations are not focusing on”.

Hlongwane said Cope’s internal research has identified and will prioritise areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape “where the masses harbour a lot of anger towards the ruling party”.

Hlongwane has been partly blamed for Cope’s poor election campaign and some national committee members called for his removal.

Head of communications Philip Dexter denied Hlongwane’s poor delivery record was discussed, but a national youth leader who asked to remain anonymous said his ineffectiveness was raised at a youth movement election team meeting.
“The guy is not providing any kind of leadership on the campaigns,” he said.

Cope spokesperson Palesa Morudu, who works closely with Lekota, conceded that although the launch of the party and its manifesto had generated much excitement, the election campaign had hit a brick wall. “The fact that we didn’t have posters and T-shirts makes the campaign’s second phase look weak,” she said.

Cope would now embark on a “listening campaign” through door-to-door visits and town hall meetings.

Hlongwane responded that his party critics should remember that they are not “acting against Mlungisi, but against the national committee” which made the decisions.

Because little time is left before April 22, Cope will send national committee members to different areas at the same time, while simultaneously trying to send its three best-known faces, Lekota, Shilowa and Dandala, to bigger events.

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. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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