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Cope: Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Congress of the People president, on the launch of two Cope branches in Clermont, Durban (08/03/2010)

8th March 2010

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After an attempted launch of a COPE branch was stalled last week (February 28th) due to threats of violence from the ANC, the Congress of the People rescheduled the launch of two branches this Sunday (March 7). The venue was changed to the Ashley Sports Field, near Pinetown in Durban.

This is something of a home ground for COPE President Mosiuoa Lekota, as he played for a soccer team called Clermont Home Defenders, and his daughter is buried in the Ashley cemetery.

"I was told that this launch was scheduled for last week," said Lekota in a speech to a packed sports hall, ‘but it was delayed because of intimidation. That tells me that freedom is not there."

"When Mandela spoke in Durban after 1994, he told the people of KwaZulu-Natal that the war was over, and that everyone must take their weapons and throw them into the sea. People must enjoy their freedom."

"But now we see that this is no longer the case. This means, therefore, that COPE must fight once again for this freedom - the freedom of association."

Lekota went on to criticise the lawlessness of members of the ruling party, who used state resources to enrich themselves instead of serving the people. This was why, he said, COPE was keen to introduce a new electoral system.

"It will be easy," he said. "We will divide the country up into 400 constituencies, and each of these constituencies will vote directly for their member of Parliament. If their MP does not represent their interests, they will be able to vote him or her out. At the moment, the towns have no clean water, no toilets. And there is no-one to go to about this. The councils are full of brothers and sisters and friends and relatives, not qualified people. And once every five years, these people buy votes with food parcels."

"When COPE gets to government, there will be no party deployment. People will do the job who are qualified to do the job. Now, we must set up strong structures, we must be open and transparent. Let's work together, openly and honestly, to build our party."

Before the launch, Lekota attended a service at the United Congregational Church, where he was warmly welcomed by congregants and pastors alike.

The branches launched in Clermont are in Ward 19 and 22.

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