The National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to drop charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma appears to have worked in the ANC’s favour in Cape Town wards won by COPE in the December 10 by-elections.
A large proportion of about 30 residents interviewed in a snap survey conducted in the three of the four COPE wards in Philippi, said the charges hanging over Zuma’s head swayed their vote to COPE, but now that charges had been dropped they would once again vote for the ruling party.
Only five out of the 30 people interviewed had never supported COPE, with the rest saying they had “learnt their lesson” and from now on would listen to ANC leaders whenever there was a dispute in the ruling party.
The mood on the street was in stark contrast to a few months ago when ANC card-carrying members were publicly tearing their cards up and moving to COPE.
One of many people who have returned to the ANC, Nomlinganiselo Lawana, 50, said she had gone to COPE because she taught Zuma was guilty of the charges he faced.
But Lawana said when the charges were dropped she realised she “was wrong”.
“They (COPE) made me believe that Zuma was corrupt and does not want people whose home language was not Zulu. I was told Zuma is changing the ANC to only people speaking Zulu and that is why I decided to join Cope as it is affiliated with Xhosa speaking people mostly,” said Lawana.
Siyabonga Mphatho, 63, said what made him change his mind and return to the ANC was Zuma’s announcement on TV that he would not take away the state pension and child support grants.
“After careful consideration I decided to give Zuma a chance to lead,” said Mphatho.
However, ward 35 COPE councillor Buyisile Mafilika dismissed the suggestion that COPE members were returning to the ANC.
Mafilika said COPE membership was still growing every day.
“Our supporters have assured us that they will vote for COPE on Wednesday and we believe them. It is not true that they are leaving. Those who are leaving are those who came to spy on us and did not have approved membership cards. Our supporters stand by us and are loyal to the organisation,” he said.
Ward 88 COPE Councillor Mzwandile Matiwane supported Mafilika’s comments.
“There is no such thing of people leaving COPE to go back to the ANC. They came to COPE because they were dissatisfied (with the ANC). What would bring them back at the last minute before the polls?” asked Matiwane.
Meanwhile, ANC Western Cape general secretary Sipho Kroma said he welcomed returning members.
“A home will always be a home and a father (ANC) will always allow his children (voters) back no matter what they have dome to him,” said Kroma.
“These people were misled to join other parties and now they have realised their mistake, and we welcome them back.” – West Cape News