Cope's youth members accuse leader of lies

Colleagues of the interim president of the Cope Youth Movement, Anele Mda, have accused her of lying to South Africans.

Mda claims to be 31 but members of the youth movement say she is 34—raising questions about her eligibility for membership of the movement.

Cope members also challenged her to produce evidence to support her claim that she founded an NGO in Port St Johns, the Growing Girls Group and Creative Young Women.

Mda accused her comrades of trying to harm her credibility as lobbying gained momentum for an elective conference likely to take place later this year. “It’s a continuation of a failed attempt of thinking someone will bring Anele down,” she said.
“They’re using a toy gun; this information cannot harm my reputation.”

Mda admitted registering as a candidate for Cope with the Independent Electoral Commission and as an MP using her identity document, which gives her birth year as 1975.

She said that the document she currently uses carries a 1975 birth date, an error made by the Home Affairs Department.

Mda said she unsuccessfully tried to get the department to change her birth year. She said: “Even if they deliver a new ID with a correct birth date tomorrow, this agenda [of her opponents] will persist. It has nothing to do with whether I was born in 1975 or 1978.”

Mda said her birth certificate and matric certificate were evidence of her correct birth date.

Mandla Jarha, chairperson of the youth movement’s OR Tambo region in the Eastern Cape, said Mda “was never a founder of any NGO” and was merely employed by the Growing Girls Group.

“She owns whatever she touches,” claimed Jarha, who said it was in Mda’s nature to act the boss.

Mda maintained that she founded the NGO and later handed it over to other members and the organisation’s board, comprising mainly Port St Johns’ residents.

Rose Chingana, an employee of the Port St Johns council, dismissed Mda’s claims, saying: “I formed the organisation with Nomaza Matiso. She [Anele] joined us later in Port St Johns and became a coordinator, but the organisation was fully fledged by then.”

Mda gave the Mail & Guardian a list of people who she said would corroborate her claim.

One of them, Marilyn Aitken of the Emthonjeni Programme, an NGO that works with teenage girls, said she gave leadership training to Mda when the Growing Girls Group was being formed.

Aitken said Mda established the group with Chingana, but added that at that stage “it wasn’t actually an NGO, it wasn’t registered”. She later heard that the organisation had registered.

Aitken said allegations against Mda were coming from people who are trying to “politically assassinate” her.

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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