Thursday, January 1, 2009

COPE, a force to be reckoned with?

- Linda Jaquet-

On the evening of 19 January, COPE’s local interim committee members introduced themselves to Prince Albert’s residents and outlined their party’s basic principles.

Interim Chair, Gregory “Bakke” Griebelaar, formerly an ANC activist, told the well-attended meeting that the ANC had done nothing for the town and that COPE had learned the importance of leadership knowing what the people wanted. He said that COPE wanted to make a difference and apologised personally for “what I have done in the past” and committed himself to not making the same mistakes again.

The party’s Vice-Chair is Jan Jaftha, while Willie de Bruin holds the portfolio of Secretary. Neville Claassen is responsible for Media and Marketing. The committee also includes several party organisers, among them local farmer Deon Gouws. The party’s declared aim is to have a person on each street in Prince Albert not only to mobilise support but also to ensure that people’s concerns are listened and attended to. The party claims to have recruited 40 000 members in the Western Cape since it was founded three months ago.

Elize Visser, COPE’s Central Karoo representative, gave a lively outline of the party’s founding ideas, with an emphasis on discipline and respect for others, non-racialism, economic growth and job creation, an apolitical public service, recognition of skills and experience, the importance of service delivery and the need to strengthen South Africa’s democracy.

She noted, however, that Prince Albert’s interim committee had no female members and challenged the committee to appoint equal numbers of men and women.

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