/ 13 May 2011

Cope at war with itself over election posters

Cope At War With Itself Over Election Posters

The minutes of a Congress of the People (Cope) election team meeting reveal a devil’s brew of mistakes, failures and mismanagement in the procurement of election campaign materials.

The meeting on April 28 at Cope’s national headquarters in Johannesburg was told that although 300 000 posters had been ordered from Johannesburg printing company Rampage Productions and paid for, only a fraction had been delivered.

“The Western Cape was supposed to receive 15 000 posters but only received 4 000. North West received 6 000 instead of 10 000. We have been taken for a ride,” the minutes said. The posters were supposed to have been delivered directly to the provinces.

Fingers were pointed at elections head Ndzipho Kalipa, who was in Australia at the time of the meeting. Dennis Bloem was appointed in an acting capacity in his absence. “There are concerns around the issue of honesty among ourselves as leaders,” the minutes said.

At the meeting Bloem authorised the use of R400 000 to pay for new materials.

Kalipa told the Mail & Guardian that he had no problems with Rampage and that all the printed material had been received, but could not explain why these had not been passed on to the provinces.

Bloem and others who attended the meeting admitted there was a dispute over the delivery of the materials. “We don’t know what the problem is. Perhaps these things will still be delivered. We should not jump to conclusions now,” Bloem said.

Chantel Smith, the owner of Rampage Productions, said that not all the material had been delivered but that was in line with an instruction from the party. “Some of it has been delivered but it was my instruction to hold some of it back,” she said.

‘Front company
According to emails shown to the M&G Cope officials believe Rampage Productions is another name for Black Sheep Concepts, from which Kalipa ordered campaign materials for the 2009 election but whose R3,4-million bill was never paid.

“I believe they set up a front company to illegally recover the R3,4-million that Smuts [Ngonyama] and Ndzipho [Kalipa] owe them for printing T-shirts in 2009,” one email reads. Smith said that she was involved in Black Sheep Concepts but “now I’m a separate entity”.

According to a Cope insider, party treasurer Hilda Ndude had refused to authorise the payment because Ngonyama and Kalipa had ordered the material in their personal capacities. Kalipa said he did not know Black Sheep Concepts.

The minutes referred to inflated prices of merchandise, expressing surprise at the cost of 44c per flyer, and saying a Cape Town company used in the past was cheaper. At the meeting Leonard
Ramatlakane, Cope’s Western Cape leader, also raised concerns about the party’s preparations for the elections. “[He] expressed disappointment on not having a proper national elections team,” the minutes read.

The meeting also analysed Cope’s political campaign, concluding that the Western Cape was a “lost cause”. “The Western Cape situation is sort of a lost cause. [We must] choose key regions for swing votes and capitalise on the ID [Independent Democrats] situation,” it said, referring to the ID merging into the Democratic Alliance.

According to the minutes the meeting lamented that there was “no decisiveness from provincial leadership”, adding that the campaign in Gauteng had been hit hard by the “Express situation” — the faction headed by former Cope deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa has been dubbed the Shilowa Express.

“The province [is] not organised due to the impact of [the] Express. [There is] a lack of materials for campaigning, lack of human resources, need for more pamphlets,” the minutes said. The “Express situation” also hampered the campaign effort in the Western Cape but Cope was nonetheless fielding candidates in all municipalities.

The announcement that former Limpopo Cope leader Sello Moloto had accepted an ambassador’s position in Mozambique “was contained sufficiently”, the minutes said, “as he has not resigned from Cope”. The ANC announced last week that former Cope youth leader Anele Mda had returned to the ANC after being suspended from Cope for siding with Shilowa.

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