Cope president Mosiuoa Patrick Lekota. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Cope has strongly defended its relationship with AfriForum, claiming that it is based on mutual interests.

Cope spokesperson Shalati Glacier Nkhwashu was commenting on the party’s plans ahead of next year’s elections. Among them was the critique that Cope had a relationship with AfriForum - perceived to be an Afrikaner interest group.

“In respect of our relationship with AfriForum in terms of which we co-­operate on matters of mutual importance, Cope sees no reason why it should be condemned. We co-operate where we have a mutual interest, and, likewise, we will tell AfriForum where we disagree with its stance.

“The preamble to our Constitution calls for us to be ‘united in our diversity’, and that ‘the country belongs to all who live in it’. Who has the authority to judge with whom we may and may not associate, and on what basis?

“Our stance is principled and we will leave it up to the electorate to decide whether they agree with our view or not.”

Nkhwashu said Cope was founded in defence of the Constitution, which informed its position on the “expropriation of land without compensation” matter.

“It is our view that our Constitution is explicitly reformist and transformative. It explicitly provides for land restitution and redistribution, but that expropriation of land may not be arbitrary and that compensation should be fair and equitable.

“This could very well mean that in certain circumstances compensation could be little to zero, Nkhwashu said.

She said Parliament’s own High-Level Panel Report and the views of many agrarian and land reform institutions and those of researchers all point to “the government’s failures” to give effect to the Constitution’s imperatives, and that there was no need to amend the Constitution.

“The ANC is not owning up to its failures; it is being economical with the truth; it is acting recklessly at a time when we need to be creating conditions for growth. Their tactics are damaging, destructive and could well be proven to be counter-productive to our transformation project,” Nkhwashu said.

She said that at the time Cope was formed the party warned South Africans of the impending disaster it would face and that there was a need to protect the Constitution and the values and principles underpinning it.

“Had the electorate taken heed of our warnings, we would not be faced with the calamity we are today, which will affect our developmental and transformation project for decades to come.

“We have remained principled in the need for good, progressive, corruption-free governance. We leave it up to the electorate (of all races and persuasions) to judge us against this criterion.”

Political Bureau