Cope battles hold key to alliances
Political Writer COPE’s internal fights could have an impact on the fate of two hung councils in the Western Cape, as party leaders battle over whether to form coalitions with the DA or the ANC.
The party’s national spokesman, Phillip Dexter, insists a deal is still being negotiated with the DA to form coalitions for control of the Bitou and Laingsburg municipalities.
This comes as the ANC has announced a coalition with the PAC to run the Cederberg ( Clanwilliam/ Citrusdal) municipality – one of 13 which ended with no outright winner after last week’s local government elections.
But a spokesman for the Mbhazima Shilowa faction of the party, Sipho Ngwema, said elected officials would rather work with the ANC which would prioritise the poor.
Ngwema claimed that “most” of Cope’s structures were unanimous in their choice for a “time-tested partner” that would prioritise the poor.
“We have, therefore, advised our councillors to side with the ANC under the circumstances. We will constantly monitor this relationship and ensure that it is to the benefit of the people,” said Ngwema.
On Wednesday Cope’s congress national committee (CNC) agreed in principle to cooperate with the DA and could also form part of governing coalitions in Hessequa, Matzikama and Witzenberg.
This came on the heels of the ANC’s announcing it had concluded deals with the Independent Civics Organisation of SA (Icosa) and an independent councillor to form coalitions in Kannaland, Oudtshoorn and Cape Agulhas.
The PAC’s sole councillor in Cederberg, Benjamin Zass, who until two months ago was a member of the ID, will become mayor while other executive positions will go to the ANC including deputy mayor (Jonas White) and Speaker.
Zass, asked about his political transformation from the ID to the PAC, said he left Patricia de Lille’s former political home out of anger at her “betrayal” of ordinary members.
“Patricia de Lille misled us. We didn’t give her a mandate to fold the ID into the DA but rather to co-operate with them. But instead she went on TV wearing a blue jacket and that’s when I withdrew myself from the party,” said Zass.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the deal meant that the ANC and the PAC would have a one-seat majority on the 11-seat council.
He said the coalition agreement between the two parties presented them with the opportunity to effect real change to the lives of people in the mostly rural community which also includes towns like Graafwater and Elands Bay.
“We really have to make a difference to the lives of our people in the next five years,” said Mjongile.
PAC provincial leader Anwar Adams said the party would not “desert or betray voters” but would be there to bring service delivery to the people of the Cederberg.
Mjongile insisted Jeffrey Donson had served his punishment and that he had not been chosen by the ANC when he was quizzed about the convicted statutory rapist who could be elected as the new mayor of Kannaland.
“We didn’t choose Mr Donson, he was chosen by Icosa. He is not a mayor of the ANC, he is not a councillor of the ANC.”
Instead, Mjongile tried to turn the tables on the press, asking: “Who are we to judge a man who has redeemed himself in the eyes of his community?”
IT’S A DEAL: Anwar Adams, left, the PAC’s provincial chairman, and Songezo Mjongile, the ANC’s provincial chairman.