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South Africa's New Political Party to be Launched Tuesday


A breakaway group from South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) will Tuesday officially launch their new party – the Congress of the People (COPE) – at the party's convention which opened Sunday in Bloemfontein.

Tuesday's launch comes just months before next year's general elections in South Africa. The convention also comes on the heels of last week's municipal by-elections in the Western Cape Province in which Cope said it won more seats than the ANC.

COPE national spokesman Phillip Dexter told VOA from Bloemfontein that COPE will become the dominant party in South Africa between now and next year's elections.

"Since 1994, South Africa has had a situation where the ANC has won a majority of 60 to 65 percent of the vote. What this is indicates is that clearly going into the future, they can no longer expect that kind of results and that for the first time, they have a serious competitor for political power in South Africa," he said.

Dexter said COPE would compete and intend to win next year's general elections against the ANC.

"The opinion polls currently show that there is a neck in neck race between the ANC and the Congress of the People. We believe that between now and the elections, there is no doubt in our minds that we will become the dominant party in South Africa," Dexter said.

He said South Africans would choose COPE because they have lost hope in the ANC.

"In relation to fighting crime, the ANC has disbanded the Scorpions, the most successful crime-fighting unit that we had in the country for the last 15 years. We as the Congress of the People say that not only will we ensure the Scorpions continue to operate, but the success of the Scorpions, which is the system they use of pairing prosecutors with investigators would be used for very serious crimes in the country, will be used for very serious crimes in the country," he said,

Dexter also accused the ANC of failing to adequately deliver public services to South African taxpayers.

He praised a High Court ruling last week granting COPE the right to use the name "Congress of the People" as a great victory for the party.

"The ANC had contested our rights to use the name "Congress of the People". We have all along said that this name belongs to the people of South Africa, not to the ANC. So we contested the ANC's court application to stop us from using the name, and the court awarded in our favor. While we were expecting this, I think it was a great victory, and our members are celebrating all over the country," he said.

Many senior members of the ruling ANC began leaving the party following an internal struggle, which led to the removal of President Thabo Mbeki.

Dexter said while it is true COPE is made up of former senior members of the ANC, the new party represents the true rainbow color of South Africa.

"Some of our party people are former ANC people like myself, but we have Independent Democrats, the Democratic Alliance and other political parties. And then interestingly, and I think most significantly is that we have a large number of South Africans who have not been involved in politics. We believe the values and the principles that the ANC stood for now reside in the Congress of the People," Dexter said.


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