South Africa's opposition Congress of
the People (COPE) says it is ready to pose a significant challenge to the
ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the April 22 general election. COPE
says it has all of its structures in place to double its efforts towards
ensuring the ruling party loses its two-thirds majority in parliament. In
announcing the April 22 date for the vote, President Kgalema Motlanthe set the
stage for the public to test the popularity of both the ruling ANC and the
opposition COPE. COPE, which broke away
from the ANC, consists largely of former
President Thabo Mbeki loyalists and is widely seen as a potential threat
to the ruling party. COPE spokesman Philip Dexter tells reporter Peter Clottey
that the party is anxious as ever to battle the ANC in the upcoming election.
are ready. We've been ready for a while, and we are very excited and pleased
that the date has been announced and now the serious campaigning can start,"
dismissed as baseless the assessment of some political analysts that COPE might
not have the potential significantly to undermine the support base of the ANC.
they have the right to their opinion of course, but we know we are ready. We
know we've got the support, and we know we've got the structures on the ground.
So we are quite confident that not only will we win this election but also win
with a sizable majority," he said.
said COPE would ensure transparency in government, which he said would address
the suffering of the masses.
are very committed to ensuring that there is clean government and that we run
the government efficiently. We intend to uphold the constitution, which the
current government intends undermining it. Secondly, we intend to change the
electoral system so that people can directly elect their representative where
at the moment they are elected on party lists. So in the future, we would want
to directly elect our president, our mayors and the leaders of our provincial
government," Dexter pointed out.
said once COPE is victorious in the election, it would focus on seriously
combating the crime rate in the country.
got a strong emphasis on crime. The current government has done away with the
elite crime fighting unit, the Scorpions or the (DSO) the Directorate of
Special Operations. We intend to reinstate it and also to use the system they have
used to successfully challenge corruption and we intend to use that to fight
other serious crimes in our society," he said.
claims COPE has a better understanding of how to best manage South Africa's
economy than the ruling party.
terms of the economic policy, we are quite confident that we've got the right
focus on enterprise development and ensuring that those sectors of the economy
where we can get growth and create jobs are prioritized and make sure that they
become a leading part of the economy. For example, the agricultural sector, the
service sector, and all things that are being neglected up until now," Dexter
said his party would do away with what most people in South Africa describe as
a job for the boys, a situation whereby only one's political allegiance gets
people jobs instead of their competence.
the public services at the moment, these are highly politicized. The people are
appointed to work in these various government departments and state
institutions. They are appointed there because of their political relationship
to the ruling party and not because of their capacity, and we intend to change
that. So that we appoint people who are professional and who can get the job,
then and in that way, we think we can significantly improve service delivery.
So those are the key areas we are different from the ANC," he said.
said COPE is in South Africa not only to stay, but to become the biggest party
in the future.
know already from opinion poll the ANC will not get two thirds and is in danger
of losing its majority and that is what we are busy trying to fight. We want to
be the majority party and our intention is to win the most votes and to be the
largest political party," Dexter noted.
The elections will call about 22
million voters to cast ballots for the National Assembly as well as provincial
legislatures. Parliamentarians will then choose the president, who is widely
expected to be ANC president Jacob Zuma, whose party has ruled South Africa
since the end of the white-minority apartheid government in 1994.
Some political analysts believe
COPE is aiming to chip away at the ANC's super-majority by tapping into support
from the small but growing black middle class, which benefited from Mbeki