Congress of the people: a promise betrayed

SOURCE: Journal of African Elections
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2010
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Ndletyana
KEYWORDS: CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE (COPE), ELECTIONS, POLITICAL PARTIES
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 6658

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Abstract

This article examines the performance of the recently formed Congress of the People (Cope) in the 2009 elections. It traces the origins of the organisation, probes its electoral strategies and provides insight into the internal challenges Cope encountered. The paper contends that Cope sought not only to envelop itself with the symbolism of liberation politics but also to transcend that by appealing to other constituencies that had not historically supported the liberation movement. This meant adopting policies that were not only targeted at the middle class but were also trans-racial. Ultimately, though, Cope's appeal was undercut by, among other factors, the persistent salience of racial inequality and excessive reliance on political activity as a source of income rather than a pursuit of principles. The article further argues that incidents related to the party also shone a light on the indifference of the business sector to competitive electoral politics and on the way the ruling party has blurred the distinction between itself and public institutions.