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THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR COPE

COPE LOGOCommentators and the media have of late been hard at work declaring the Congress of the People as being dead and buried. This is a farcry from the positive and at times exagerrated coverage of the party before and after its inaugral conference in December last year.

During their shor-lived flirt with COPE the media and public intellectuals had the party as offering a serious challenge to the ANC. The official opposition, the DA, was ranked a distant third in the parliamentary perking order.

The recent about turn in perceptions about the new political kid on the block is the result of its poor performance during the April 22 general elections. To compound matters following its poor showing at the polls, the party was embroiled in an inner-party strife that threatened to tear it apart. Two of its most senior leaders, Lynda Odendaal and Simon Grindrod jumped ship out of frustration. Accusations and counter-accusations flew back and forth.

The there were stories of a plot to get rid of party president Terror Lekota as well as parliamentary leader Dr Mvume Dandala.

Since this mini crisis there has been a flurry of activity, including the despatch of a trouble-shooting team to  provinces to calm the waters and assure members that all was well on the COPE side of town. Numerous of its leaders took to the media to rekindle its profile. A welcome development for a party hitherto declared a deadman walking.

In my view South Africa needs COPE for the well-being of our young democracy and hard won freedoms. More than any party, now or in the immediate future, COPE remains the country`s only hope from a possible slide to a Zimbabwe destiny. It has all that is required to make a success of its mission to defend democracy and its accompanying freedoms – struggle credentials, a national footprint and its current membership cuts across colour and class.

The tragedy is that its leadership appears not to be awake to this fact. If they were awake to the potential COPE has, they would have done much better to build the party into a formidable political player than it is at the moment.

Let us hope, and pray that they get the act together sooner than later.

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