Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

12 January 2014

South Africa: Cope Congress - Big On Dreams, Short On Prospects

analysis

"ANC Set To Win, But Cope Could Be Opposition", ran a local headline less than two weeks before the 2009 elections. It's almost unthinkable now, but back in those heady days, Cope was tipped to win as much as 20% of the national vote. In the end, they managed just over 7%.

Almost five years later - years characterised by chaotic leadership battles and a gradual leaking of credibility - leader Mosiuoa Lekota says that with the aid of a coalition of small opposition parties, he's aiming for 51% of the vote. That was the bullish message coming out of Cope's first national congress in Johannesburg last weekend.

"It is common cause that at a stage the congress, in the early hours of 16 December, descended into disarray, with chairs being hurled across the plenary venue, delegates being injured and having to leave the hall." That's Judge Craig Watt-Pringle, delivering his verdict in October last year as to who the rightful leader of Cope was, reminding the party of the events that transpired on Cope's second attempt to hold an elective congress in 2010. If a conference which ended in violent brawling is your previous benchmark, it's...

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