/ 25 March 2009

Sanco Cape branch backs Cope

The Western Cape branch of the troubled South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the South African Cape Corps military union on Wednesday pledged support for the Congress of the People (Cope) in the April elections in a move the party said could bring it about half-a-million votes.

Sanco’s provincial secretary Veza Nethi told reporters the organisation had called on its 340 000 members in the Western Cape to vote for Cope on April 22, and also urged them to support the party in by-elections in Mitchell’s Plain and Bellville on Wednesday.

”Sanco structures are going to be integrated with Cope. We called on all our members to vote for Cope,” said Nethi.

His position in Sanco, which played a key role in the anti-apartheid struggle, is disputed by rivals
and it is not clear whether the entire provincial structure now backs Cope.

Sanco last year pledged support for the African National Congress (ANC), its traditional political ally, but the organisation split shortly after the birth of Cope, as factions began openly supporting the breakaway party.

Nethi insisted that all of Sanco had turned away from ANC because the ruling party had abandoned the principles of the Freedom Charter.

”If that spice is no longer part of the recipe then you have to find another menu,” he said.

He also accused the ANC of failing to tackle crime and poverty and said Sanco members could no longer tolerate corruption by the ruling party’s leaders.

Nethi said the national leadership fully supported Cope, adding that factions still backing the ANC were no longer part of Sanco’s legitimate leadership.

South African Cape Corps chairperson John de Jongh said the union’s 160 000 members, about 16 000 of whom served in the defence force, would vote
for the new party in the elections.

The union has been at odds with government for more than a decade, accusing it of reserving positions in the post-apartheid military for former Umkhonto weSizwe cadres and seeking to exclude its members.

Cope’s interim chairperson in the Western Cape, Mbulelo Ncedana said getting the ”unwavering support” of Sanco and the South African Cape Corps was sure to improve its performance on election day.

”This translates into hundreds of thousands of voters.” — Sapa