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#Elections2019: Everything you need to know about Cope

Mosiuoa Lekota founded the Cope party along with other former members of the ANC in 2008.

Mosiuoa Lekota founded the Cope party along with other former members of the ANC in 2008.

Published Apr 30, 2019


Name of Party:

Congress of the People (Cope)

Year Launched:


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Party Leader:

Mosiuoa Lekota

What it believes:

Cope believes South Africa needs to return to the rule of law and that politicians who have abused public resources should be jailed. The party says the country needs to look forward to the future where an inclusive economy is achieved and economic growth is attained and benefits all. It says economic growth should result in job creation which aligns with the requirements of a Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Profile of leader:

Lekota has a long history in South Africa’s struggle for liberation. He began as a student activist as part of the SASO in 1974. He was later imprisoned at Robben Island for Apartheid activism activities and was released in 1982. He later joined the United Democratic Front and served as its secretary. He was a defendant in the Delmas Treason Trial and imprisoned and released in 1989. He played a crucial role within the ANC. He was the convenor of the ANC in Southern Natal and a member of the party’s national executive committee and national working committee. He was appointed as the ANC intelligence chief in 1991 and served as the secretary for the party’s electoral commission in 1992. After 1994 elections he served as the premier of the Free State until 1996.

He later served as the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces from 1997 until 1999. He was then appointed as defence minister. He also served as the national chairperson of the ANC until 2007. He resigned along with various other members of the cabinet and the ANC in September 2008 following former president Thabo Mbeki’s resignation.

He went on to found the Cope party along with other former members of the ANC. He has served as the party’s president since its founding. 

History in nutshell:

Cope was founded in 2008 largely led by a group of former ANC members that were unhappy with the processes followed by the party to force former president Thabo Mbeki’s removal from office. Its two main leaders were Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa, a former Gauteng premier. The party was launched months before the 2009 elections and was largely seen as an alternative for those disillusioned by the ANC at the time.

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The party managed to receive about 1 311 0027 of votes which amounted to 7.42% of the votes.  It gained about 30 seats in Parliament. But the glory was short lived as the party underwent a leadership battle between Lekota and Shilowa which led to a split in the party between those supporting the two. The infighting caused the party to lose a large share of its supporters in the 2014 elections with it only being able to gain three seats in Parliament.

Cope’s position on hot button issues:


Cope believes in land expropriation to achieve land reform only to the extent that passes Constitutional muster. It says a more reliable and comprehensive land audit should be conducted to help achieve land reform. The party says resources should be provided to support existing and legitimate farmers. It says state-owned land should be made available to build houses and for agricultural purposes. 


The party says the economy needs to be stimulated in order to allow for job creation and competitive markets that will allow for large scale investments which would lead to job creation. It says it would introduce a “Buy South Africa Bill” aimed at requiring SA companies to use SA manufactured goods in order to enable greater job preservation and more job creation. 

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Cope says it will tackle corruption by ensuring the prosecution of corrupt politicians. It says ethical muster will not just be a slogan for the executive but for lower levels of government. It says what is needed is a culture of accountability and full consequences for those who do not adhere to that culture. It says citizen activism, whistleblowing, and investigative journalism are facilitated, supported, safeguarded and rewarded to increase accountability and expose corruption. Public representatives dutifully and competently service their communities without any political bias.


Cope says children, elders, and the disabled who are the most vulnerable in South Africa will be protected against neglect and abuse through – education and practical skills programmes given to caregivers, parents, family members, pre-school teachers and assistants. It says ABET and TVE programmes  will be used for on caring, stimulation, basic screening for physical and emotional health problems, healthy nutrition, identification of symptoms of bullying, abuse and violence, and reporting any abuse to law enforcement agencies. Vulnerable groups in both the rural and urban areas of our country are kept under regular watch for their protection.

Churches and NGOs will be encouraged to create community centres where ongoing education is provided and problems in respect of vulnerable people are given attention. It says women will be empowered through ABET and TVET training, in towns and rural areas, to provide for themselves. 

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Cope believes the development of the green economy is stimulated because of that alone is going to be the economy of the future. It says it will introduce sound environmental practices, with an emphasis on recycling and environmental sustainability are widely implemented in our country. Under Cope Organic farming will be supported to replenish depleted soils and to protect both consumers and the environment. It says it will ensure carbon emissions continue to be progressively and meaningfully reduced through various interventions like tax incentives and in keeping with South Africa’s moral obligation to honour international commitments on climate change. Cope says radical community-wide programmes will be instituted to build awareness about climate change and to empower people to take initiatives that contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change.


Cope says the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution which poses a steep challenge to our nation because of the poor quality and nature of the education of children will be addressed through education reform. It says investments in innovation will be made to bridge the digital divide through an expansion of the information communication network and the adoption of new technology as a significant driver for socio-economic development. It says it will ensure that meaningful economic transformation takes place through the widest availability and use of computers and Information Communication Technologies. 

Cope says it will facilitate the local manufacturing of computers to supply the market with affordable computers to achieve socio-economic transformation, It says will be sought from all players in the economy to recruit as many as 10 000 suitably qualified graduates for training so that they can form the vanguard leading the country’s charge in capturing high ground for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to feature prominently in South Africa’s economic development.


Cope says it will tackle crime through a number of strategies such as ensuring that all national and other police commissioners are suitably qualified, experienced and skilled in a relevant field before being appointed. It says the safety, security and intelligence services will be depoliticized as part of establishing and maintaining a professional civil service. Research capacity at police colleges will be developed so that the police are able to deal with criminals who attempt to keep ahead of the police.  It says it will ensure that adequate resources are allocated to the police to operate effectively,

It says minimum criteria will be developed in respect of population density and crime trends to determine staffing.  The salaries and promotion of officers will be based on academic qualifications, skills and performance. It will introduce specialised police units will be established to eradicate serious crimes within affected communities.

Compiled by Zintle Mahlati

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