Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota invited all opposition parties on Monday for talks on November 25 on forming a more united front against the African National Congress (ANC).
Lekota said the former liberation movement had outlived its purpose and had become too corrupt to provide South Africa with the governance the country needed.
“The ruling party is in crisis. The alliance is in crisis,” Lekota told reporters in Cape Town.
“This crisis has spread into government. Whether at national, at provincial, at local level — government is in a crisis of inability to respond to the needs of the people of this country and it is paralysed by corruption that is unprecedented in administrations since we democratised the country.
“The liberation movement has served its historical mission. It is done. Even the romanticism has passed.”
Lekota said Cope had agreed at the last session of its congress national committee in Johannesburg last month that only a more united opposition could offer a viable alternative to the ANC.
“Our conclusion was that only if opposition parties act together can they begin to shape a credible, effective alternative to the ruling party,” he said.
“We need a formation that can solve critical issues of administration.”
Lekota dismissed reports that he was preparing to merge with the Democratic Alliance as “fallacious” and said his invitation was for “a meeting of equals”.
“It is a member of the opposition and it has been invited like all the others.”
Lekota said opposition leaders had not yet responded to his call and the outcome of the meeting was far from a foregone conclusion.
The former ANC minister declined to spell out a concrete vision for greater opposition cooperation but said he hoped a meeting could see agreement on a “platform or minimum objectives”.
“In that meeting we expect that each and every party will be given an opportunity to comment on this question of re-alignment or cooperation of opposition parties to build a more convincing alternative to the ruling party,” Lekota said.
“It is not an event. It’s a process.”
He declined to discuss the internal strife that has plagued his party but Cope’s treasurer Hilda Ndude said all parties, including the DA, had their own problems and these were no excuse for inaction.
The long battle between Lekota and Cope co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa for the leadership of the party will continue in court in December.
Cope polled 7% in the 2009 national elections mere months after it was formed but in this year’s municipal vote the party’s support dwindled to 2%. — Sapa