/ 26 May 2011

Relaunch or fold, Dexter tells Cope

Relaunch Or Fold

Congress of the People (Cope) communications chief Phillip Dexter has proposed that the party relaunch itself or disband, the Times said on Thursday.

“Dexter has proposed in a confidential document circulated among party leaders that Cope should relaunch itself or disband,” the newspaper reported.

As results of the local government elections streamed in it became increasingly obvious that this election was becoming a war between the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. The Mail&Guardian asked smaller parties what they thought about the possibility of coalitions and if they thought South Africa was becoming a two-party state.

In a 19-page draft report titled “COPEing with the Crisis in the Congress of the People: Our Responsibility in the National Democratic Revolution”, Dexter apparently said the party had degenerated into “a culture that mimicked the worst found in the African National Congress [ANC]”.

Dexter reportedly claimed that party election lists were manipulated in 2009 and 2011 and that Cope funds were abused in Parliament by the party’s co-founder, Mbhazima Shilowa, by Cope provincial leaders and in the party headquarters, controlled by the party’s president, Mosiuoa Lekota.

The article quoted a party source saying that Dexter’s document was the “first shot fired in the leadership contest between Dexter and Lekota”, although in an interview Lekota said he did not see Dexter’s document as an indication that he wanted to be party president.

The party won 2,33% of the vote in last week’s local government elections and faced the “impossible choice” of deciding whether to go into a coalition with the Democratic Alliance or ANC in hung municipal councils, the newspaper reported.

Last week Lekota said he was satisfied with his party’s performance in the elections.

Speaking at a press conference at the election centre in Pretoria on Friday, Lekota said the results proved that Cope was a national party that had secured seats in various municipalities across the country.

“Cope did not go into this election at full strength. We have proven that Cope has a presence and a foothold across the nation.”

Lekota said he was “satisfied” with the party’s performance, but that “we would like to see the Congress of the People in a stronger position than it is”. — Sapa