By Fiona Forde

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane and Sipho Ngwema have been appointed to key positions in the Congress of the People (COPE) as the party names its dream communication team.

Tabane, until this week corporate affairs director at Altron, has been named as COPE's chief information officer under Phillip Dexter who will head up the team as national spokesperson and political head of communications.

Ngwema, the former head of communications for the Scorpions during Bulelani Ngcuka's days as National Director of Public Prosecutions, joins COPE as media liaison chief.

Ngwema and Tabane were joint winners of the

Government Communicator of the Year award in 2002.

At 36, Tabane has held a string of senior communication roles.

In addition to Altron, he was head of communications for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, head of communications at South African Airways as well as spokesperson for the Ministry for Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Prior to joining the Scorpions, Ngwema, 40, cut his teeth in advertising and worked at Sanlam.

He later joined Vuya Investments as a media and communications specialist. "Surely their contribution to COPE will shake the ground significantly," said leader Mbhazima Shilowa.

Tabane said joining Cope was "a calling one could not ignore" and which affords him "an opportunity to make a difference in these interesting political times of our country".

Ngwema described his move as a means "to contribute to the building of a 21st century leadership that has substance, a vision and does not contradict the Constitution".

COPE has also appointed a string of other seasoned communicators to beef up its election team, among them Palesa Morudu as assistant spokesperson to Dexter and editor-in-chief for all of COPE's publications; Dr Tseliso Phomane, the former commercial enterprises chief at SABC, who will oversee branding and IT; Luzuko Koti, the former spokesperson for the Department of Provincial and Local government, who will lead the internal and member communications unit; Avril Harding, formerly of the Independent Democrats and Andile Nkuhlu.