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Can Dandala COPE?

23 February 2009

According to the Sunday Independent the appearance of Methodist church leader Mvume Dandala at the top of the election list of the Congrese of the People party (COPE) is causing a rift in the new party.

Sunday Independent:

Shilowa, who addressed a rally in Soweto yesterday, said: ‘(Dandala’s nomination) is a view of the organisation. It has my full support. I will work to ensure that our members understand.’

Previously Lekota has touted himself as the party’s presidential candidate. Some in the national committee argued during the Thursday meeting that Dandala would be welcomed by the middle-class and the media, but lacked the popularity appeal to the grassroots.

‘Mvume is not known to ordinary people. He is known among the middle-class, but we are chasing popularity (votes) of ordinary people. He is even a stranger among the executive. Some of us cannot relate to him.’

I suppose I must be irredeemably middle-class, because I thought that putting Dandala at the top of the party list was rather a shrewd move on the part of COPE.

The party was formed by Terror Lekota, the former Minister of Defence, and Mbhazima Shilowa, the former Premier of Gauteng, who were unhappy about trends in the ANC.

The trouble is that they were very much part of the ANC governing structures in the past, and when the Zuma faction prevailed over the Mbeki faction at the ANC’s Polokwane conference just over a year ago, one could not help wondering whether their decision to form a new party carried the whiff of sour grapes.

So many politicians seem to be on the make these days that one tends to be cynical about it. The ANC today is very different from what it was 15 years ago, on the eve of South Africa’s first democratic elections. Back then there was a real sense of altruism and a desire to serve the community. The fall from grace of Carl Niehaus seems to typify how things have changed since then. There is a perception that self-interest has replaced the ideal of public service in many of our political leaders. That perception may be false, but it exists, and is reinforced by statements like that of ANC Youth League President Julius Malema who is reported to have said “If Zuma is corrupt, then we want him with all his corruption.”

If the ANC does not officially distance itself from Malema, then one can only conclude that the ANC is officially in favour of corruption, and that the ANC government’s removal of anti-corruption devices like the Scorpions is to facilitate corruption on the part of political leaders.

Against this background, COPE’s putting Dandala at the top of its list is a refreshing change. Dandala has not been in political office like the other COPE leaders, and so, as the media have noted, doesn’t carry the same kind of political baggage as other political leaders, not only of COPE, but those of other political parties as well. And, if nothing else, it might get them the Methodist vote, since Dandala is well-known in Methodist circles, and I believe is well-loved by many Methodists. And surely not all Methodists are “middle-class”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 23 February 2009 8:40 am

    I think that one of the good things that has happened over the last ten years is that the middle class has grown in size. The question is, is it big enough for Cope. And, of course, if this throws out Lekota’s contribution to the cause, it’s going to be bad for the party. Interesting times – but I think very encouraging for the future of South Africa?

    • 24 February 2009 6:04 am

      I think that one of the good things that has happened over the last ten years is that the middle class has grown in size.

      I think that’s a a mixed blessing, if it’s a blessing at all. Whether there is or should be a “preferential option for the poor” may be a moot point, but a “preferential option for the middle class”?

      Though on second thoughts, that seems to be something that many middle-class Cnhristians seem to assume, though I haven’t heard of anyone trying to justify it theologically.

      But the problem in South Africa today is that many middle-class people make no secret of their ambition to be filthy stinking and obscenely rich.

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