Mbhazima Shilowa. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko.

Johannesburg -

This time there was no kiss, not even a quick hug. Just a short announcement that a political party and the splinter of another were joining forces.

On Monday, Mbhazima Shilowa, leader of the breakaway Cope faction, announced that he and 800 other members would be supporting the United Democratic Movement ahead of the elections.

Shilowa and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa gave a joint press statement in Sandton on Monday.

Not everyone was excited by the merger.

“This is not going to rock party politics,” said political analyst Professor Susan Booysen, adding that the move smacked of political survival. “This is a regrouping exercise with not much substance.”

Holomisa explained that Shilowa had approached the UDM after more than 800 delegates representing Cope branches from eight provinces were left out of the party’s recent national congress. The members left out held their own summit in Bloemfontein to plan the way forward.

“The summit mandated Mr Mbhazima Shilowa to engage with the UDM to take the realignment debate forward,” said Holomisa.

“The result of the talks between the two delegations was that these branches will support and mobilise for the UDM in the forthcoming general elections.”

There is a snag, however, as Shilowa said he won’t be part of the integration of the two parties due to an interim interdict against him.

“The personal reasons are that there is an interim interdict I need to attend to, and I don’t want that to impact the process,” Shilowa said. “I will be available to assist in this process, be it campaigning or fund-raising.”

In a statement, the other faction of Cope, led by Mosiuoa Lekota, said they were shocked to learn that Shilowa claimed to speak as a member of their party, insisting

he was no longer a member.

It added: “We wish Holomisa good luck with this baggage he has decided to take upon himself.” - The Star