Only 75000 have joined Cope since its formation

AS THE political fortunes of Cope dwindle, the party has announced that no more than 75000 South Africans had joined the organisation since its formation in 2008.

This is a far cry from the party's claim during its first congress in Bloemfontein that more than 480000 people had submitted membership forms.

General secretary Charlotte Lobe told a media briefing at Cope headquarters in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, that a new leadership would have to rejuvenate the interest of voters ahead of local government elections.

"At the time of the national congress in Bloemfontein, we had received membership lists from various provinces.

"What happened to them? We also need to develop new strategies to ensure that we encourage such people to be members of Cope," she said.

Lobe said it was understandable that the initial hype created by Cope's formation had disappeared.

"When a new thing comes into being there is a lot of excitement about it and this was the case with Cope.

"There was an excitement about this thing coming into the country's political landscape. I cannot lie and say there are not people who have lost interest since the formation of Cope.

"As we go to congress we must be able to make those people ask why Cope was formed in the first place and why it remains relevant."

Lobe confirmed that the party would hold its first elective conference at the end of the month - despite reports that a faction within the party would seek a court interdict to stop it.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape has emerged as the most powerful province in the party with 644 delegates ahead of the conference scheduled for May 27 to 30.

The Western Cape has 266 delegates, North West 198, Limpopo 391, Free State 162, Gauteng 167, Northern Cape 185, KwaZulu-Natal 37 and Mpumalanga 2.

Cope Youth Movement and Cope Women's Movement have been granted 40 voting delegates each.