The rot has set in, we will defend the Constitution

Your party came out with rather conflicting messages about affirmative action?

Your party came out with rather conflicting messages about affirmative action?

In our conference resolution and in the manifesto we say we support broad-based black economic empowerment and affirmative action.

The confusion arose from the overreaction from people like the Black Management Forum - and Jimmy Manye in particular.

When the president of the republic said we need to review affirmative action, you did not hear Manye say: "How dare he say that?"

Again, when the president of the ANC emerged from a meeting with Solidarity and poor whites in Pretoria and said there was a need for a re-look on affirmative action, it was also not an issue.

The confusion arose when we introduced a third issue - which is how to get people out of poverty?

When you deal with poverty, you cannot distinguish between poor whites and poor blacks. But we admit that we should have communicated that better.

There is a perception that the ANC has been taken over by communists and that your breaking away was as a result of this. What's your comment?

There are communists in Cope. We have Cosatu members so we obviously would not take a line that is anti-communist or anti-worker.

Our approach is that we need to prevent the ANC from winning again.

That is because we don't believe that the direction the ANC is taking is in the best interest of the country.

What direction is that?

When the Helen Suzman Foundation invited us to debate on the erosion of the Constitution and the rule of law, the ANC said there was no need because the Constitution was not under threat.

The truth is as follows, just last week we booked a hall in Port Elizabeth but when we got there we were told that the hall had been booked for a school-governing body meeting.

We had to hire a marquee to continue with our meeting. In Zwide - also in Port Elizabeth - the ANC occupied a hall we had hired and we ended up abandoning that meeting.

The law says it is unlawful to withhold information about a crime. Now the ANC seems to be suggesting that they know something about arms deal-related corruption. Why shouldn't a law-abiding organisation be obliged to tell the authorities about what they know?

Of course the judiciary should be criticised, but as [Chief Justice] Pius Langa and [his predecessor] Arthur Chaskalson said, it should be based on the facts.

We are saying that when the rot sets in, it may take five to 10 years to do so.

But the rot has already set in, let us defend the Constitution and our democracy.

Our Constitution indicates the kind of leaders we want. When Anele Mda and Willie Madisha said something they shouldn't have, we immediately issued a public apology.

When Special Assignment claimed a Cope member was involved in something illegal that had taken place three years earlier, we didn't wait.

By the time Special Assignment ended at 10pm we had already issued a statement suspending him.

Now compare that with the ANC Women's League. I am still waiting to hear what they will say about Julius Malema's attack on "Khwezi" [Malema said Khwezi, the woman who accused Jacob Zuma of rape, had had "a good time" and that is why she only left after enjoying a breakfast and asking for taxi fare from Zuma].

Cope has taken action about every single issue that has come our away, no matter how painful.

Opposition parties say you didn't deal with corruption when you were premier of Gauteng?

It is just politics to say that.

But the facts are that all those allegations were investigated by the integrity commissioner or the public protector. Nobody was ever cleared by me.

You must ask them (opposition parties) if I have ever been caught with my fingers in the till. In fact, I have dismissed people where we found corruption.

You should read Jack Bloom's message on the day Paul Mashatile was inaugurated. He said I was the best premier that Gauteng has ever had.

What is your attitude towards establishing a commission of inquiry into the arms deal?

We can never, in principle, be opposed to a commission of inquiry.

We would need objective criteria and say whether we have traces [of crime] that cannot be dealt with using normal routes.

We have said before that if anybody has information that [Cope president] Mosiuoa Lekota was bribed - not that he just signed in the same way as Trevor Manuel or Alec Erwin - they should come forward and we will give the information to the police.