Cope says ANC purge of councillors is good for it

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The Congress of the People (Cope) says it is expecting to win about 50 Eastern Cape wards in by-elections that could take place as early as February.

Cope Eastern Cape leader Andile Nkhulu, pictured, told Sowetan the ANC's mass suspensions of Eastern Cape councillors over the past week was "the last kick of a dying horse".

"We are already gearing up to contest by-elections in these wards if the ANC expels these suspended councillors," Nkhulu said.

The ANC recently suspended nine ward councillors in Nelson Mandela Bay on suspicion of flirting with Cope.

In the past week alone a whopping 58 councillors have been suspended in the province - 20 of them from its traditional strongholds of Nelson Mandela Bay, Matatiele and Mnquma municipalities. They haveinstructed their lawyers to challenge the suspensions.

This ANC tactic backfired in Western Cape when the suspended councillors resigned, joined Cope and contested 27 by-elections recently. The ANC lost 24 of the 27 with Cope taking 10 of them.

But ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus said they were not concerned that places such as Nelson Mandela Bay might fall to a coalition of Cope and other opposition parties if the purge continues.

"We cannot have a situation where people who are no longer loyal members remain in the ANC. We cannot allow them to ride with us like Trojan horses," Niehaus said.

But independent political analyst Dale McKinley says there was "a very real possibility that the ANC will incur huge losses in Eastern Cape".

"There are signs of panic, witch-hunting and an indication that the ANC is in an organisational mess at a local and provincial level. Turning on the councillors is going to cost the ANC for sure."