Durban - The sole representative of Cope in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Lucky Gabela, has distanced himself from his party, saying it no longer stands for the ideals upon which it was formed.
He has therefore decided not to campaign for the party prior to next month’s general elections.
Gabela, whose five-year term as a member of the legislature is drawing to a close, said he was still a member but hinted he would soon announce his decision about his future.
There is already speculation Gabela will soon reveal he has joined the ANC. Cope provincial secretary Bheki Khusi said yesterday the party had received reliable information that Gabela had joined the ANC and was just waiting for his term to officially end before making this public.
“We know that there is such a move, and we want to expose it. We say good riddance as Gabela was useless as an MPL. He has also squandered monies that belonged to the party,” Khusi charged.
But Gabela dismissed these allegations.
“Saying that I embezzled some funds is a lie. To begin with, Cope as an organisation in KwaZulu-Natal has never had any funds. The only funds that they might be talking about are the constituency funds that are paid by the legislature to ensure that members of the legislature do their work efficiently. These are not party funds,” he said.
Gabela said his support staff were remunerated accordingly.
“These people are just angry because they have tried several times to remove me as a member of the legislature, but they have not succeeded. They are also making claims that I now sound like an ANC MPL, but anyone who makes such claims really does not know what the formation of Cope was about. The party was never meant to be a coalition of people who are aggrieved against the ANC, but an alternative that would revive the ideals that the ANC of Luthuli espoused. To think that I can now divorce myself from the ideals I grew up on is a fallacy,” said Gabela.
Despite the divisions that have rocked Cope – some of which led to high-profile leaders joining other parties – Khusi said he believed the party could still retain its one seat in the legislature and even stood a chance of increasing the support it got in 2009.
“What we see on the ground assures us that we have enough support”.