An attempt by an informal grouping of COPE members in the Western Cape to address concerns over the interim leadership in the province, was on the weekend shunned by the party’s national leadership.
An informal grouping within the party calling itself ‘The Concerned Group’, say power struggles related to the formation of branch structures have led to undemocratic processes in the party and leaders such as provincial chairperson Mbuleo Ncedana, are forsaking involvement in issues affecting their electorate in favour of lobbying for power.
As a result, the group called a meeting at the Johnson Ngwevela Hall in Langa on Sunday and asked party founders Mbazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota, as well communications head Philip Dexter to attend in order to mediate on their concerns.
However, no-one from the national office pitched up.
Spokesperson for the Concerned Group Bernard Joseph said the only feedback he got from the national office was from Shilowa who sent an sms on Sunday morning saying that he did not support the formation of parallel structures and the concerns should be raised at national level.
But Joseph said they never had the opportunity to raise issues at national level, which is why Sunday’s meeting, attended by about 120 concerned COPE members, was called.
He said the main agenda on Sunday was dealing with undemocratic practices emanating from provincial interim leadership government, particularly allegations that Ncedana was setting up a parallel leadership structure in the southern Cape in an attempt to “unilaterally remove the recognized legitimate structure”.
He said the concerned COPE members wanted national leaders to hear and address their concerns.
“It’s for these very reasons that Simon Grindrod and Alan Boesak left the party because there is no interest in ensuring that COPE is a structured organisation that is truly concerned about making a difference in people’s lives.”
COPE ward 52 councilor in the City of Cape Town Xolile Gophe said the party in the province was being led by unelected leaders who were “imposing themselves on us”.
Gophe said COPE was not upholding the ideals of democracy that it was founded upon and was heading down the same road as the ANC from which it broke away.
“It simply means we haven’t learnt anything from the past experience with the ANC.”
On Monday morning COPE’s provincial interim leaders held a press conference at the provincial legislature to address the “behavioral patterns” of the Concerned Group and provide an update on the formation of voting districts.
Ncedana said the Concerned Group’s demands did not make sense as it was unwise restructure the leadership months before the elective conference expected to take place in March next year.
Cope researcher in the Western Cape Mphuthumi Ntabeni said national leadership was adamant that the party needed to set up its structures before the elective conference so that members could be democratically elected into leadership positions.
But Ntabeni said problems over leadership were not restricted to the Western Cape but were widespread across the country.
He said the Concerned Group were also guilty of pushing for power and the very nature of interim leadership was that it was not democratically elected because no structures or branches existed at the time they were appointed.
“They are all just copying and pasting Simon Grindrod’s reasons for leaving the party. (He) was also disappointed after he had to step down from taking a position in the legislature as representatives had to be from across the province instead all from the Metro.” – West Cape News