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COPE IS MORE RELEVANT TODAY THAN IT WAS IN 2008 – Congress of the People (COPE)

Cope LogoMESSAGE OF THE CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE

ON THE OCCASION OF ANNIVERSARY OF ITS 6TH BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY

On the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the birth of the Congress of the People (COPE), we

proudly celebrate an important milestone in our journey of organizational development towards

becoming the alternative government. The question is, how many South Africans in general, and

those who joined us, understood us then.

COPE IS MORE RELEVANT TODAY THAN SIX YEARS AGO WHEN WE WERE BORN

We can boldly proclaim that the reasons, principles and values that gave motivation for the

establishment of the Congress of the People on 16th December 2008 in Bloemfontein are more

relevant, imperative and urgent, today than ever before.

TODAY SOUTH AFRICA IS IN A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

Six years ago at our Inaugural Congress, we warned against the wrong direction in which our

country was being steered by the ruling elite. The government has abandoned the road paved

by Nelson Mandela and our country is fast going towards disaster. Today, the evidence of what

we resisted and fought against is everywhere for all to see, and that situation is worsening daily.

Today’s government, which claims to be uncompromisingly committed to the values of the

Constitution and the Rule of Law cannot even disguise its contempt for the Judiciary and

Institutions supporting democracy in Chapter 9 of our Constitution.

The recent turmoil in the National Assembly is a direct result, and indicative, of the lack of

magnanimous leadership and respect for the Constitution, especially on the part of the majority

party.

SOUTH AFRICA IS IN A FISCAL CRISIS

Today, wanton corruption and maladministration of the affairs of the nation are the order of the

day which are condoned and abated by the leaders of government. Millions of South Africans

can sadly attest to the dehumanization and indignity of these scourges that are afflicting our

nation.

The National Development Plan – the only real long term development Plan our country has ever

had, is subjected to lip service and there are disingenuous attempts at, and hesitation to, its full

implementation. The economy of our country is being mismanaged to the point of achieving

pedestrian growth rates projected at 1.4% in 2014 and the lows of under 5% in the medium term.

Such growth prospects cannot secure the long term employment creation and the prosperity of

the working masses and the poor. There can be no excuses for such poor performance our peer

economies and even smaller economies are achieving better results despite also being

impacted by global events.

Our country has been degraded by the rating agencies because it has no money. There is a

threat for being degraded further. We are three trillion Rands in debt. By the time government

has paid the Executive at national and provincial spheres, the grant and the interest on debt

there is hardly any money left to provide important services such as health and education to the

people. Government then has to go out and borrow money in order to provide these services.

All the money that we had saved in previous governments so that we don’t have to borrow

money has been used up for things such as salaries for a huge cabinet and administration.

SOUTH AFRICA IS IN A GENERAL SOCIETAL CRISIS 

As evidenced by the number and variety of service delivery protests there is a generalized crisis

of society in our country. Since 2008 we have been raising alarm bells that the dire situation of

poverty, unemployment and inequality of South Africans will continue to deteriorate unless we

change course in terms of policy options and the administration of the affairs of our country.

There are, as a result of the crises we face, all kinds of tensions rising in society – racial tensions,

ethnic tensions, xenophobia etc. Such tensions are not unique to South Africa. History is full of

examples of the damage that happens in such situations.

SOUTH AFRICA IS IN A POLITICAL CRISIS – THE CENTRE IS NO LONGER HOLDING

Today our Parliament is essentially dysfunctional as it is unable to manage its affairs. The fact that

Parliament, which sets the standards, rules and laws is in such disarray is the worst devastating

commentary on the state of affairs of our country. It is for this reason that people are beginning

to look elsewhere for political direction.

It is in that context that Congress of the People welcomes the birth of the NUMSA-initiated and

led United Front as primarily a space for common working class and community engagement.

The United Front must be one of the areas where people in our country will be looking to for

political answers. This is because, as evidenced by developments in Parliament, the centre is no

longer holding because it can no longer hold.

In the days of apartheid a similar situation occurred. When the political crisis deepened and the

centre of the apartheid government was no longer holding some of the people who were then

representatives in, and/or represented by the apartheid parliament forgot that there was

Parliament and started to look at extra-parliamentary politics. They started to go to Lusaka, to

Dakar, and to look at structures such as the United Democratic Front- UDF – for answers to the

political crisis that the country found itself in.

SOUTH AFRICA’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE IS GETTING RE-DEFINED

We are happy to note that more players have followed our rejection to being part of the

corruption of the ruling Party and entered the contestation of the political space and that yet

more are contemplating to do the same.

The Congress of the People welcomes the long overdue emergence of the new and yet to be

established political parties who aim to represent the constituency that seeks to build socialism in

our country. This is a constituency that has sadly lacked political representation in the electoral

and parliamentary space.

COPE also notes the strengthening of the voter base for the party representing liberal politics in

the country and its increasing growth in the historically black constituency. We believe that even

though the issues of property ownership and individual freedoms -which form the core of liberal

politics- do not represent the concerns of the majority of South Africans, they too have a right to

representation in the political space of South Africa.

BUILDING SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH AFRICA

As we welcome the new political developments in the country, the Congress of the People does

not however believe that socialism as we have known it historically is a viable option for our

country. Neither do we believe that a party with a liberal ideology can cater for the majority of

South Africans. This is why, from its inception, and taking into account lessons learnt by others,

the Congress of the People has advocated a middle way -social democracy- as the best viable

option for the majority of South Africans black and white.

Accordingly, in the Congress National Committee Declaration issued just after the May 2014

elections, we reaffirmed the Social Democratic orientation as our ideological foundation and

basis. We are convinced  that social-democracy with its values of freedom, equality and

solidarity offers all South Africans – whether they are working class ,unemployed, poor or middle

classes, whether they are natural persons, businesses or civil society organisations – an

opportunity to participate in the country’s economy and a chance to  be significant players in

their own, and the country’s,  development. Social democracy considers the mutually

complementing roles of the public, private and not-for-profit sector as essential for

development. The weight of each element in this equation will depend on the conditions and

challenges of the country at the time.

We believe that the vast majority of South Africans can and must have the opportunity to enjoy

a middle-class quality of life as the standard, with quality education and knowledge  being at

the core of such a life. The development of the quantity and quality of the middle class

therefore becomes a major target and task for the Party.

BUILDING OUR PARTY- CLEAR ABOUT OUR OWN IDENTITY AND POLITICAL PRIORITIES

The unprecedented cooperation among opposition parties on issues of common interest in

Parliament is another positive development and an area of action which is destined to grow.

This however requires that we must be clear about our own party identity, as well as our political

priorities and interests.

We therefore call on all our members to continue to build party structures by renewing their

membership and recruiting even more people of quality to join the ranks of the Congress of the

People. We can only achieve our objectives when we remain true to the ideals of a genuine

non-racial, non-sexist, economically inclusive and prosperous society as envisaged by the vision

of our founding forebears at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955.

WE ARE FEWER BUT BETTER

Today, we can proudly state that “we are fewer but better”. The unwavering commitment by

those of us who are still members of the Party to the values of the Constitution of the Republic of

South Africa informs our daily conduct as we serve all our people. We are conscious that it is only

through selflessness and by resisting the temptations of self-aggrandizement and enrichment at

the expense of our principles and the people that we can overcome the national challenges

facing our country. This is the sacrifice facing today’s generation of political activists, often to the

detriment of our families, but it is a sacrifice we are ready and honoured to make.

We in the Congress of the People must continue to be the repository of the HOPE of the people

of our country and the agents for viable and sustainable CHANGE in South Africa. WE must

remain RELIABLE, ACCOUNTABLE, AND INCORRUPTIBLE!!

Since our historic and 1st National Congress in January 2014 and the 5th democratic elections in

May 2014, we have been seized with the task of progressively consolidating the administrative,

political and institutional capacity of the party and repositioning ourselves within the corridors of

Parliament and the three Legislatures where the Party is represented, being Eastern Cape,

Limpopo and Northern Cape. The benefits of all these efforts will soon be felt and visible in all our

structures across the length and breadth of our country. We boldly and proudly re-iterate

without any fear of contradiction that COPE has survived the vicious onslaught orchestrated by

its detractors whose ultimate objective was to completely obliterate the party from the political

life of our nation.

The prophets of doom have been defeated by the sheer determination of the hundreds of

thousands of the genuine members and supporters of the Party to resist being assimilated into

narrow political bigotry or to catch the last coach of the corruption train which is being

unashamedly steered by some erstwhile freedom fighters and supposedly democrats and taken

advantage of by others.

WE KNOW THAT WE SHALL PREVAIL. We have turned the corner and are looking to the future with

much determination and positive prospects of playing a leading role in re-routing the political

direction of this country towards the vision as represented by the 1994 democratic

breakthrough. We are not captive to our past challenges and WE are not short of HOPE. Having

transcended the formative stages of organizational development and having learned valuable

lessons, we are better positioned to achieve our political objectives.  

WE SHALL PREVAIL BECAUSE the principles and values that gave motivation for the establishment

of the Congress of the People on 16 th December 2008 in Bloemfontein are more relevant,

imperative and urgent, today than ever before.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE!    RISE CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE RISE!

Issued by Congress of the People (COPE)

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