The Congress of the People, COPE, South Africa's newest political party launched its campaign platform, at a rally in Port Elizabeth attended by tens of thousands, with a call for a return to morality.

COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota told thousands of supporters in Port Elizabeth that his party would work hard to restore public service to the moral high ground. "A leadership that will respond to your burning desire for respectable moral standards, integrity and honesty in public office," he said.

Lekota charged that under the current leadership of the ruling African National Congress judges are being undermined and disrespected and the constitution flouted.  He said his party can do better. "In this regard we must rise to the challenge of the defense of our national constitution, which is the foundation of all law in our land.  We must deepen our democracy by demonstrating loyalty and respect for the principles and values enshrined in our constitution," he said.

The party's official platform, called a manifesto in South Africa, also promises to promote growth and create jobs by providing focused support to the manufacturing industry, industrial development and the service sector. 

COPE said it would broaden the current public works program, and establish a development fund to encourage more women to become active participants in the economy.

The party also promised to reinvigorate crime prevention with specialized units to target so-called priority crimes - which include murder, hi-jacking and rape.  COPE also promised to re-instate the soon-to-be-dissolved Scorpions unit which targets corruption and other serious crimes.

The party will also seek to change the current electoral system in which senior government officials are accountable to the ruling party and not to the electorate.  Lekota said this is the only way people can effect change when governments fail them. "We need a government that is directly elected by the people, accountable to the people, and is certain to serve the people.  This is a very basic tenet of democracy.  Our call is for a change therefore of the electoral system wherein you, the people, can directly elect, mayors of your towns and cities, premiers of your provinces, and the president of your country," he said.

Lekota is a former Minister of Defence and ANC chairman who last year led a breakaway from the ANC following the party's ouster of then President Thabo Mbeki.