HISTORY is supposed to teach us lessons so we do not repeat the same mistakes.

HISTORY is supposed to teach us lessons so we do not repeat the same mistakes.

Our experiences as we travel this journey called life are meant to transform us into more conscientious human beings who can walk in the light of the wisdom gleaned from past experiences.

Not so with the Congress of the People (Cope). The party, launched amid much fanfare, is fading.

It promised an "Agenda for Hope and Change for All South Africans" and instead, Cope has become a party of dithering power-mongers and confused amateurs.

The leaders of the party are falling all over themselves trying to convince us that the resignation of its deputy president is a mere storm in a teacup.

How can the resignations of high-profile leaders such as Lynda Odendaal and Simon Grindrod barely eight months after the party was launched be a nonevent?

Odendaal was the second deputy president and Grindrod a senior member of the party.

Those are strategic, powerful positions, and anyone who occupies them would have insight into the party machinery.

Their view of their party cannot be immaterial and for Cope to issue denials and claim all is well within its leadership structures is disingenuous.

They seem to have learnt well from a certain former president who was wont to declare: "Crisis? What crisis?"

Odendaal was coy and unconvincing when she clumsily tried to explain her reasons for quitting - but Grindrod shot from the hip.

His statement reads: "It very much appears that Cope was, in the light of recent events, little more than an alternative vehicle for the retrenchment of key individuals who now seek to further what are ANC policies and processes by any other name . I am now convinced that very little appetite exists to accept, let alone rectify, the very serious challenges that face the party."

I bet a resounding chorus reverberated from Luthuli House: "We told you so!"

But a fundamental lesson needs to be learnt here.

The launch of the party was not in itself wrong. In a democracy there is latitude for freedom of association and breaking away from a formidable liberation movement like the ANC took guts.

Our political landscape needs to reflect the dynamism that is found in all societies.

Nothing stays the same and nothing should. But if you are going to take on a party as powerful as the ANC and attempt to offer South Africans an alternative, you had better get your ducks in a row and be clear on your priorities.

Leadership squabbles, personal attacks and catty press statements do very little to inspire confidence.

Cope is busy affirming criticism that its founders are a group of bitter adversaries of President Jacob Zuma who lacked the grace to fall on their swords after the epic leadership contest in Polokwane.

What happened to the principles of openness, unity and integrity that the party claimed were being subverted by the ANC?

Today Cope leaders are so divided that they contradict each other in the media.

The one leader does not know what the other is up to. If you want an interview with a particular Cope leader you have to know which camp he occupies or else you risk phoning the wrong spokesperson, who won't put you through to the next guy.

Another sign that the honeymoon is over is that they are no longer easily available on their phones and some have even changed their numbers.

Having served divorce papers on the ANC, Cope leaders are now serving them on each other. They have self-sabotaged by prioritising personalities over efficiency.