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Mail & Guardian Online reporter and Sapa, Sapa-AFP03 Nov 2009 10:38
Western Cape Congress of the People (Cope) leader Allan Boesak resigned from the party on Tuesday, saying its structures were in disarray.
“I have today [Tuesday] informed the leadership of Cope that I am ending my membership of the party and that I have tendered my resignation as a member of the Western Cape provincial legislature with immediate effect,” Boesak said in a statement.
“From the very beginning the party structures, such as they were, were characterised by faction fighting, strife, pitched battles for political supremacy and duplicity ...
“At this point the party structures continue to be in disarray,” he said.
Boesak “expressly” said he did not want a leadership position in Cope when he joined it in December 2008.
“It was only after the severest pressures that I conceded to assist the party in the elections.”
Deep resentment was caused within the party “by the irregularities with the list process and the interim leadership situation persisted and made normal work almost impossible”, said Boesak.
This is an apparent reference to reports of in-fighting between Mvume Dandala—elected as Cope’s presidential candidate—and party leader Terror Lekota.
Boesak said many “good, hard workers” in the party had been suspended because they dared to criticise the leadership.
“It seems that the mud is rising. I have no desire to subject my family, myself or my calling to serve our people to these sorts of indignities and destructive politicking.”
Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter brushed aside Boesak’s criticism, saying it was never going to be easy to launch a new political party.
“We’ve received his resignation with regret.
He joined the party when we launched ...
“The kind of challenges he pointed out ... are ordinary challenges when you are dealing with a new organisation.
“We wish him the best in his future endeavours,” Dexter told Sapa.
Cope has experienced a rocky road in recent times—in September, Anele Mda, Cope’s youth leader, was suspended after allegations that she called the party’s deputy general secretary “a stupid, white token bitch”.
At the time, Cope’s leadership apologised to South Africans for Mda’s behaviour.
“As Cope we reiterate our commitment to a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa. We also reiterate our belief in building a membership that is disciplined and respectful of our values as a democratic African country.”
Two senior Cope leaders, Simon Grindrod and Lynda Odendaal, also resigned in recent months, expressing disappointment with the way the party was being managed.
Cope is the third-biggest party in Parliament and has been increasingly working together with the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance.
Boesak promised to “continue with my work in the civil society, in the church and as extraordinary professor at the University of Stellenbosch”.
He said “working for the integrity of this democracy of the people of South Africa is what I have always been called to do”, adding that he would return to work for the “globalisation project” with churches in South Africa and Germany.
“Here, as before, I can work with dignity and purpose.”
In the meantime, he would continue to pray for Cope.
“My prayer is that Cope will find that hope and vision again and so fulfill the promise it had made to the people of South Africa now almost one year ago.”
Boesak, who was convicted of fraud in 1999 but later pardoned, recently released his autobiography, Running with Horses: Reflections of an Accidental Politician, in which he maintains his innocence in the fraud case.—Sapa
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