Cope leader Mosiua Lekota briefs the media about the future of his party at the IEC's national results operations centre. Picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota will not return to the ANC, he said on Friday.

“Going back to the ANC would mean that I agree that an elite have a right to exist in this democracy,” he told journalists.

“The ANC is no longer the organisation we stood for and went to prison for.”

Several Cope MPs, such as Smuts Ngonyama, rejoined the African National Congress during the election campaign.

Lekota said the defectors who left the ANC in 2009 to join Cope did so with no valid reasons why they left.

“Those who left Cope now came to Cope back then not knowing why they left the ANC in the first place. Myself and other comrades here know why we are here as Cope members.”

Preliminary results showed the party suffered a huge loss in terms of votes compared to the previous election in 2009.

Lekota said his party was saddened by its results so far.

“We can't celebrate that we lost so many votes... it is a bit saddening and we don't know the reason why this has happened,” he said.

Cope, a breakaway from the ANC, had received 120 852 votes just before 3pm. The party received over a million votes in 2009.