Western Cape Congress of the People (Cope) leader Allan Boesak resigned from the party on Tuesday, issuing a blistering attack on the party’s internal organisation which will serve to confirm reports that it is crumbling.
Boesak, the third senior member to leave since the election in April, said in his statement that “party structures continue to be in disarray”.
“From the very beginning the party structures, such as they were, were characterised by faction fighting, strife, pitched battles for political supremacy and duplicity,” Boesak said.
Boesak said many “good, hard workers” in the party had been suspended because they dared to criticise the leadership. “It seems that the mud is rising. I have no desire to subject my family, myself or my calling to serve our people to these sorts of indignities and destructive politicking.”
His statement hints at more than disorganisation, citing “irregularities” with the list process prior to the election – without specifying what these irregularities might be. Presumably Boesak is referring to the decision prior to the election to install Mvume Dandala as Cope’s presidential candidate while party leadership remained with Terror Lekota.
Boesak also referred to the leadership position, saying interim leadership situation which had persisted “made normal work almost impossible”
Boesak did not provide any clues about whether he might have been lured back to the ANC, saying instead that to “continue with my work in the civil society, in the church and as extraordinary professor at the University of Stellenbosch”.
However, not two hours after Boesak announced his resignation from the party on Tuesday, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana issued a statement inviting him back to the ANC.
“Mdladlana says he wishes to remind Boesak about his home, the organisation with ideology and vision, the ANC,” said a statement released by Mdladlana’s office.
Cope spokesman Phillip Dexter brushed aside Boesak’s criticism,saying it was never going to be easy to launch a new political party.
“We’ve received his resignation with regret. He joined the party when we launched… so obviously people had high hopes for his involvement.
“The kind of challenges he pointed out… are ordinary challenges when you are dealing with a new organisation. We wish him the best in his future endeavours,” Dexter told press association Sapa.
Boesak’s criticism of Cope dovetails neatly with the prevailing orthodoxy about the party: that its being run by people who were not particularly good organisers when they were part of the ANC, so it’s hardly surprising that the are running an opposition party badly.
The other two Cope leaders who resigned recently, Simon Grindrod and Lynda Odendaal, also expressed frustration with the internal organisation in the party.
It’s an open question whose reputation will suffer the most because of Boesak’s resignation. Lekota is party leader, so technically he is where the buck stops. Yet Dandala has been totally invisible since the party emerged, so some blame must fall on his leadership abilities (or lack thereof).
By Tim Cohen
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