Azapo to strengthen its support

NEWLY elected Azapo president Jake Dikobo's vision is to have the party as an official opposition in four provinces by 2014.

"It is possible for Azapo to become the official opposition in at least four provinces (including Limpopo) by 2014," Dikobo said during an interview with Sowetan yesterday.

Dikobo was elected Azapo leader at a conference in Johannesburg at the weekend. He replaces Mosibudi Mangena who has been the party's leader for the past 16 years.

He said the leadership's mission was to strengthen the party's structures on the ground and to embark on a massive political education campaign.

Dikobo said his newly elected team's mandate was also to fight for the political space that the ANC had closed.

He said the reality was that the ANC's strongest opposition was Cosatu and the SACP.

He blamed Azapo's lacklustre performance in previous elections (the party has one seat in Parliament) on a lack of resources and its inability to articulate its message to the electorate.

Dikobo also blamed the "party's dismal performance on the blurring of the lines between the state and the party by the ANC".

"The reality is that ordinary people in the villages believe that their pensions are paid by the ANC and if they do not vote for the party they will lose them," he said.

The Azapo leader was also sceptical about the move by opposition leaders to form a united front. He said his party would only form an alliance with like-minded parties.

At the weekend Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille made a commitment to bring together opposition parties in a united front. The move was welcomed by the DA , United Democratic Movement and the Congress of the People.

"We do not want to unite with people simply because they hate the ANC. The DA says when is affirmative action ending - we say when is it starting because statistics show that white women are benefiting the most from affirmative action," Dikobo said.

Other members of Dikobo's executive are deputy president Strike Thokoane, general secretary Mpotseng Kgokong, deputy general secretary Nontobeko Yawa, national chairperson Zithulele Cindi and treasurer general Lefoka Kganane.

In recognition of his contribution to Azapo, Mangena has been made the party's honorary president for the next 15 years.