BARELY five years after ANC members broke away from the ruling party to form the Congress of the People, COPE itself now has a splinter group.
The Daily Dispatch learnt of advanced plans to register COPE breakaway United Congress (Unico) with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
One Unico member is reportedly Mluleki George, who was a member of the ANC and then later COPE.
Former Amathole regional executive member Mziyanda Noqhayi said the new party was formed because COPE had failed the people of South Africa while fighting over positions. “Very soon we will be pronouncing about the organisation,” he said.
Already 13 branches have been registered in Mbhashe, but there was no formal structure yet. Noqhayi declined to reveal other members nationally, but said members from both the ANC and COPE were interested in joining.
Contacted yesterday, George said his involvement in the new party would be announced in due course.
A COPE MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of Unico. “The mission of COPE, which was destroyed by [Terror Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa], can never be abandoned, and if you look at the new parties that have emerged, they have not answered the question that COPE was to deal with,” he said.
“Agang is just collection of educated people while the EFF is just an angry organisation, it talks about things that will never exist. The government has serious challenges, it can never take the mines. The DA is not an answer. The ruling party has drifted away.”
COPE is currently embroiled in a bitter court battle to determine its legitimate leaders between Lekota and Shilowa.
A COPE youth leader said there was fear among some party members that the fight between Lekota and Shilowa could lead to the party not contesting elections next year.
“There is the fear that whoever loses might interdict the winner from registering the party for next year’s elections,” said the leader.
Both COPE Eastern Cape chairman Sam Kwelita and secretary Archie Ralo distanced themselves from the new party.
“We shall eventually contest the elections under one banner. We shall not do anything that will obstruct our organisation from going to the polls next year.
“There’s only one COPE and we shall do all we can to unite and normalise the party,” said Ralo. — firstname.lastname@example.org