Cope to outline its policies as it launches manifesto

Cope, which has been blowing hot and cold over some issues, most notably on where it stands on affirmative action and black economic empowerment, will this weekend get an opportunity to send its clearest message about what they would do if they were to be in government.

Cope, which has been blowing hot and cold over some issues, most notably on where it stands on affirmative action and black economic empowerment, will this weekend get an opportunity to send its clearest message about what they would do if they were to be in government.

While Cope's position on issues is captured clearly in its conference resolutions, pronouncements by its leader Mosiuoa Lekota must have had some of its leaders embarrassed.

Lekota, who famously sang the Afrikaans folk song Suikerbossie at the party's launching conference, has made astonishing remarks about employment equity, and even more questionable outbursts such as calling the Black Lawyers Association racist. Given that the association is open to members of all races, but does not pretend that there are issues that specifically face black lawyers, it could be concluded that Lekota - a one-time Black Consciousness exponent - was hellbent on attracting as many white voters as he could, even at the expense of distorting history.

Lekota's message, which can be interpreted to refer to other black formations such as the Black Management Forum, would have cost the party some credibility it might have garnered from a black middle class that has benefited from employment equity and economic empowerment policies.

The launch of the party's manifesto in Port Elizabeth this weekend should not only allow Lekota a chance to redeem himself, but also for the party to show how the interests of a country riven by race and class differences can be reconciled into a patriotic project in which all South Africans can find a home.

Cope has styled itself as a modern, post-ideology and certainly identity politics party.

This weekend South Africans who have been mesmerised by Cope's fresh-sounding rhetoric, will be given something more than a sound bite to chew on.

The Cope manifesto is expected to focus on the party's 10-point plan, which includes:

l Defending the Constitution and the rule of law;

l Eradicating poverty;

l Growing the economy, creating decent work and reducing unemployment;

l Providing the people with the necessary education and skills to realise their full potential;

l Improving the quality of health care;

l Fighting and reducing crime and providing better safety and security for all;

l Empowering women to achieve gender equality;

l Empowering and developing the youth;

l Strengthening families and family life and communities; and

l Uniting the nation to act together to build a truly non-racial South Africa.

As with all manifestos, the devil is in the detail, and later, who will champion that cause. - Political staff

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