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Opposition COPE Vows to Win South Africa Election Despite ANC Dominance

The opposition Congress of the People (COPE) has vowed to win South Africa's April 22 general election despite the overwhelming support the ruling African National Congress (ANC) enjoys ahead of the election. COPE said ordinary South Africans are aware of the ANC's failed promises and dashed hopes and are calling for change in the upcoming election. The party also warned that a landslide win for the ruling ANC in next week's election would be one more step towards one-party dominance that has ruined many African countries. But the ANC dismissed the accusation as a calculated face-saving tactic knowing how bad the opposition will perform in the election. COPE spokesman Philip Dexter tells reporter Peter Clottey his party is in the election to win.

"As you know, we as a party are in this election to fighting it and winning it and that is what we believe we can do. And we believe we have a strong chance of being the future governing party," Dexter pointed out.

He said South Africans have lost faith with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

"I think most South Africans are fed up with the ANC's ineptitude, its inability to fix things, the corruption that goes with it and I think it is quite clear that we've seen certainly in the last few weeks President Zuma admitting that the ANC has committed terrible mistakes in the past. Now, it is all very well to say that, but since he was part of that government and since he was part of the executive and no one expects him to do any better. So, quite clearly South Africans are looking for change and that change we believe will come in the way of what COPE has to offer," he said.

Dexter dismissed as unfortunate assertions that his party COPE would be unable to challenge the ruling ANC party's two–thirds majority in parliament in next week's election.

"We are in this election to win and we think that we will be the future government of this country and we do not expect the ANC to win," Dexter noted.

He said the formation of the breakaway COPE is sending shivers down the spine of ANC supporters.

"Prior to the formation of COPE, the possibility existed that the CN would win more than two thirds majority and would want to change the constitution in a very authoritarian way. But that is not possible and one of the reasons why people must vote for COPE is to ensure that that doesn't happen," he said.

Political observers say despite the anticipated stiff challenge the opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance and COPE are supposed to give the ruling party in next week's election, the ANC is expected to win the election. But there are skeptics who believe COPE would undermine the success of the ANC in the election thereby thwarting the ruling party's two- thirds majority in parliament.

The opposition COPE party was formed by disgruntled members of the ANC who felt former South African President Thabo Mbeki was forced to step down. Mbeki was alleged to have politically influenced the graft charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

The National Prosecuting Authority this month decided to drop graft charges against Zuma, a decision which is expected to boost the ANC's chances in next week's general election. But some South Africans say the NPA's decision to drop the eight-year-old corruption charges against Zuma on a technicality gives ammunition to the ANC leader's critics who say the ruling party has a dangerous grip on nearly every aspect of public life, including the civil service and judiciary.

The dropping of the charges was sharply condemned by opposition parties who vowed to seek legal counsel about the charges being dropped against Zuma.

Zuma supporters maintained that the eight-year old graft charges against him were politically motivated to prevent him from becoming South Africa's next president.

Zuma is widely tipped to be South Africa's president after the election due to the overwhelming support his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party enjoys among ordinary South Africans.

Meanwhile, South Africans living overseas voted Wednesday, a week ahead of elections likely to usher in five more years of the ruling African National Congress led by Jacob Zuma. Some South Africans however fear the ANC's stranglehold on power is raising fears of a slide towards permanent one-party state.