Peter van der Merwe
Peter van der Merwe

Here’s why I’m angry with Cope

Hi, my name is Peter, and I voted for Cope in the last elections.

And now I’m angry. Hopping, spitting, bang-my-head-against-the-wall angry. Not because I was gullible enough to believe Cope could provide a feasible alternative. Not because Cope effectively stole my vote and then proceeded to gleefully trample all over it. Not because the antics of Mbhazima Shilowa, Mosiuoa Lekota and their cronies make the ANC Youth League look almost grown-up by comparison.

No, I’m angry because they took away my choices.

There’s a municipal election coming up, and I fully intend to exercise my vote. I have never missed the opportunity to vote, and I don’t intend to. I think it is a thrill, a responsibility and a privilege that should not be wasted or taken lightly.

Problem is, I don’t have many choices when it comes to drawing my X. The ANC? Please. The current government has refined state criminality, cronyism and corruption to an art form. It allows the spending of R100 million on a youth congress where drunken idiots spend their time — and my money — fighting over lunch packs and playing spin the bottle, while hundreds of thousands of South Africans live below the breadline.

Any idea how many houses R100 million would build, Bra Jacob? Or how many hungry school kids it would feed? Or how many adult literacy programs it would keep afloat? No, I didn’t think so. Because your priorities suck, and you don’t give a tinker’s cuss. You offer people heaven for their votes, but for many of them, their reality is a hell of pit latrines, unemployment and despair. So don’t even phone me this time round, ANC. I’m not interested.

How about the DA, you ask. Well, how about them, indeed. Just because I’m white and middle-class myself doesn’t mean I want to be part of a party whose thinking is largely white and middle-class, and whose stock-in-trade is the reactive, screechy tirade. Sure, South Africa needs a strong opposition. I’m just not sure it’s going to get it in the DA — well, not until the DA becomes a whole lot more credible to a whole lot more South Africans.

What does that leave us? The ACDP, whose esteemed leader thinks Laurent Gbagbo is the legitimate leader of the Ivory Coast? The FF, whose leader sold out his principles and his people to get his own bum in the butter? The IFP or the UDM, which exist but to venerate a couple of the great dinosaurs of apartheid politics? One of the IFP’s opportunistic offshoots?

That’s why I’m angry, Cope. You had a chance to make a difference. You gave me a choice. And then you yanked it away by showing yourselves to be nothing but loathsome, power-hungry, backstabbing, self-serving bottom feeders.

So I can’t tell you who I’ll be voting for in the coming elections. But I do know who I won’t be voting for. Can you cope with that?

  • Anon

    Reactive and screechy definitely sounds like the tone of this post Peter. I would invite you to stop looking for excuses as to who you cant vote for, and start looking at what parties stand for.

    As an example, your little tirade against the DA completely ignores the work that organisation has done in managing Cape Town and the Western Cape, as validated by international peers.

    Stop looking at what you think you are seeing, and start looking at the facts. Maybe then you will be empowered to choose.

  • The Creator

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Mr. Van Der Merwe. At the moment, the only reason to vote for any party that isn’t ANC is that they aren’t ANC, and the only reason to vote for the ANC is that they aren’t any of the other ‘orrible parties.


    Sir you are angry – What about those who joined, paid their membership fees, were used and then caste aside by the rot. Today meany of the very same align themselves to Lekota – and yes he and his team have been informed about how corrupt they were, how abusive they are- Let me tell you they are no different to Shilowa. Let the media warn the public not be suckered in by the attempts to get community activist to stand for them. THEY WIOLL BE USED AND ABUSED FOR OTHERS GAIN.

    When ny funds run dry suddenly my skill wer no longer needed And I am not the only person who falls into this group. AANY PERSON WITH INTEGRITY WAS DENIED THE CHOICE TO MAKE COPE THE ALTERNATIVE.

    The cover up as early as 2008 and 9 is sickening. Let both be tossed out and may people start participating in the communities to make a change

  • Cross Parker

    Well, Peter, there are apparently 158 registered political parties in S.A. I’m sure you can find another minimalistic party to vote for.

  • Jason Norwood-Young

    Peter, I think you speak for many of us.

    I also voted for Cope, and might as well have not voted at all. (Actually not voting at all might have been more productive.)

    I love the *idea* of the ANC, as expressed in the Freedom Charter, but unfortunately it bares no resemblance to the reality of the current ANC.

    The DA is so reactionary that it can’t see the wood for the trees. I’m not sure it even has its own policies, it just reverses every ANC policy.

    The others are all a joke.

    Voter apathy? Our political climate deserves it.

  • RationalResponse

    Look to Cape Town and the Western Cape and see what those “screechy white middle-class tiraders” are doing. Now compare this province with the other provinces. Now take a step back and re-evaluate your position and then consider. You may have more choice than you realize. Just a thought.

  • pap & wors

    It is quite obvious that Cope cannot cope with politics. Perhaps they should try peddling as door to door salesmen in some obscure business. They are certainly a waste of space and a vote. I did not vote for them in the last elections (thank goodness) and I certainly won’t in the next. If they survive to the forthcoming election they will probably emerge as a completely diluted and washed out entity.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    Peter, here’s why I’m angry with you:

    Firstly, for thinking COPE could, even if it had won, have been anything other than how you describe the ANC – artists in “state criminality, cronyism and corruption”; the founders of COPE were part of the engineering team of the ANC gravy train, who founded COPE when they were booted out! Basically, I’m angry with you for being stupid.

    Secondly, regarding the DA as opposition, ignoring the racial aspect (and we are supposed to be blind to race are we not?), an opposition gains credibility through power, which comes from the voting public – the more votes a party gets, the more credibility it gets and the more opportunity it gets to demonstrate its ability to govern… in other words, it has an opportunity to be more than just “reactive”. I’m angry with you for expecting an opposition to be credible without you giving it the opportunity to be so.

  • Lindiwe

    I’m in the same dilemma, Peter. Cope has really messed me up big time. I have to start hunting for a new political home. Thanks to Shilowa and Terror!

  • Michael Liermann

    “Hi, my name is Peter, and I voted for Cope in the last elections.”

    Oh, that was *you*? I’d wondered where that one vote came from.

    Jokes aside…I’d love to see a credible opposition party to the ANC that has membership demographics that are more representative of the country as a whole. COPE does not seem to be it, though.

  • Haiwa Tigere

    Peter ask yourself why people vote for ANC and you will find your home there. Dont just vote for ANC join it and make changes to any complaints you might have from within.The “largely white and middle-class” believe ANC has done nothing for SA. Educate yourself go to the townships villages sheebeens and find out for yourself.Of course there is a long way to go but the people know who has their best interest.
    Try this. Vote ANC then join the party in your village, township and stand for positions. Be heard. Then you will discover why people love ANC.

    No point in you listening to opinions in TL and think this is what SA thinks. TL is with a few exceptions just a clique just like my fellow shebeen patrons were just a clique.
    TLshould be renamed ANC hate club

  • David Harris

    Spoil your ballot paper as a more tangible expression of your displeasure with the choices on offer. You even get the chance to stand in line for the full democratic experience.

  • Mr Y

    I have always thought that we should have a extra block at the end of the voters roll. One that says none of the above. That way all those who feel that no current party deserves thier vote, can still be counted.

  • Goolam.Dawood

    Word. The DA stinks to high heaven of eurocentricism and hypocrisy in just about everything they show and hide. Their “credentials” of shaping up the western cape are actually just proving to be nothing more than a marketing campaign. And their position of viable alternatives, virtually ignores the best options for our country for the preferred option for a small segment of the population.

    Yes, I also hoped for more from COPE. But I think now that Shilowa wil face tough discplinary action, the party can move forward. I like the lefvel of intellectual enterprise and principles shown by most of the COPE members and their leadership. Lets hope it works out. Because the other two are just rubbish packaged as democrats.

  • Peter Joffe

    Stop thinking about race and start thinking about standards. If your standards are based on truth, accountability, development and value for your tax ‘dollar’ then there can only be one party to vote for. If that party just happens to be mostly ‘white’ then we have to do that and get more ‘black’ people to understand that the revolution is over and now we have to vote for ‘business’ people who can run the biggest business in the country – the government.
    Singing and dancing and bearing of buttocks are not qualifications to run a business.
    Imagine Cyril Ramaposa or Harry Oppenheimer doing that.
    Most if not all ‘parties’ that come from a revolutionary background cannot shed that background and continue to sing the same songs and do the same things, except that the proceeds are now for their personal accounts and not that of the people. All for me and none for all is their motto.

  • Ronnie

    Anger and cynicism never assisted any one. Cope is a reality that Soth Africans must support to the end. We all know the ‘Animal Farm’ state of SA Politics today. We need to keep the fire burning, cherish the idea not the man who served the divorce papers or the man who seem hell bent to create a facade that all the intensions were not worth the effort.

    With time COPE remains the ideal that we should support. No one ever promised it will be easy but some one has to do it. No mmater how tough, I am definitely voting COPE. Never loose the bigger picture. It is our future!

  • Commitment

    Peter the reason I will vote COPE again in the coming local government elections is because I admit that as a three year old party it is bound to face ‘teething’ problems.Umlike you and other voters I have decided to be active in ensuring that the party stands for hope and change. Unfortunately it is true the party has inherited some individuals who are so spoiled by power they think our votes were meant to enrich them. COPE must get rid of those people. Democracy in South Africa will come through hard work and commitment to certain values. A vote alone will not give us democracy. The ANC for now still get the most votes , but their actions daily threaten our democracy.

  • frosty

    DA my friens is all you need. Come to Cape Town and see how The City is run compared to the rest of the country. The roads are brilliant, the CBD is great, the place is clean, well in most parts anyway, and things work. Compare that to the cesspool operated anc provinces. What other reason are you looking for??

  • Tanqueray

    Reactive, screechy tirade? I am angry with myself for reading your silly article.

  • Kenda

    Your logic and white guilt are obviously conflicting and your sense of judgment is in tatters. try sorting out one of the two and you will find more clarity. democracy is always in flux you have to cast your vote to get the best results for what you are after.

    a vote for anyone besides the ANC means that you want accountability, so give your vote to someone who you think will hold them accountable, as they change back to their core values so too can your vote.

    Produce for all or get out! – Simple really.

  • laurence

    If there is little choice as you say, then one is inclined to vote against rather than for a party. If you want to vote productively for democracy, then building a credible opposition is a reasonable option. Certainly not the perfect option, but a reasonable one under the circumstances.

    At least your vote then is not wasted and since opposition politics takes significant resources, they will have time to build their brand and in so doing, clean up their act.

    Best wishes Peter and thanks for opening the debate.

  • Peter van der Merwe

    Haiwa, you’re probably right. I do only see things from the outside. The other view would probably be helpful – wanna take me for a few drinks at your local shebeen? For the record, though, I don’t hate the ANC. I love what they stand for. I just don’t like what I perceive them to be right now, or how their lofty vision is being translated into reality.

    Havelock, you make a fair (if stinging!) point. I suppose the critics of the DA, myself included, are looking for more of a vision: we want to be inspired!

    So where does this leave us? The ANC needs to take its great vision and make it real. The DA needs to take its gritty, results-oriented focus and make it a compelling vision. There’s no pleasing some people, I tell you!

  • Fix-it do not abondone it

    Peter, COPE linked itself with Divorce when they left the ANC. They were part of the problem actually and did not want to instrospect but wanted things to stay the same. Media projects what it wants us think. You see DA has many problems themselves but they are not an issue from the media perspective as they will not make the news! In the Vaal and Western Cape they have a series of issues but media will not publicise them.ANC looks bad guys.I chose my wife and married her. I learned that I must fix our challenges.Marriage can be bliss! Others do see it that way. they blame spouses for eveything. Now The ANC is for me the only alternative after I have voted for them all the time.I am happy that things are being fixed.New methods of choosing local Councillors and support are being revisited now. What that means,is that there is a new breed of ideas coming from below that will swell the higher echelons soon.People on the grounds are making their choices. Not Luthuli House.You have a chance, I have too.Let us fix what is broken and not throw away the child with the bath-tub.Do not just vote ANC , get a Card and influence the choice of leadership and decisions you believe in.

  • Tony

    Vote for COPE as a proteset against the disloyal ANC and the reactionary DA!

  • Craig

    About five or six years ago..I was passing through a airport and I picked up a magazine to read on the flight. The magazine that caught my eye..was The Economist, and it only caught my eye, because of the title blazoned across the front cover. The title: “The Best bit of Advise I have been given!” The authors were the leaders and CEO’of top business and industries around the world. When reading it…what blew me away, were the stories of ,how simple and just normal common scence – that advise had been. Their given advise, wasnt rocket science or some mind-bending-reinvent-the-wheel type of inspirational thought, or some unheard-of-eureka-type moment…but rather ,”Just Good-Honest-Simple-Straight-Forward-Common-Scence-Principles”. The sort of things that I am sure,we all think of,but very few of us ,tend to stick to.
    Now, the reason I mention this: Is when I vote for a political party..I dont look for rocket-science or rosy-cushy-meaningless-rhetoric with no substance…but rather for :Simple,Clean,honest,Common Scence principles,that I know will work !It isnt rocket science! And further, if those principles, have already been tried and shown to work elsewhere, then it hasnt surprised me…but rather reaffirmed my belief!! To me.. Its as simple as that, when it comes to a choice.

  • Belle

    A few DA policies that have Finally been implemented (or considered) by the ANC:

    – Interim assessments of schoolchildren at grades 3, 6 and 9
    – Proposal for opportunity vouchers/tax incentives encouraging employment of school-leavers
    – The ‘dashboard’ system of centralised monitoring of provincial services and expenditure in the Western Cape(now adopted by Gauteng Province)
    – equity shareholding in farming co-operatives
    – Home-delivery of chronic medicines to relieve long queues at hospital pharmacies (currently being contemplated by the Gauteng Health Dept
    – Re-introduction of School Inspectors

    … just a few I can recall. Perhaps, Peter, you should visit their website before displaying your ignorance about the DA’s policies.

  • MLH

    Said it all on the previous post, but…
    In a democracy we don’t all get what we want. These elections are but a breath in the overall historical picture; we won’t all get what we want. But these elections could bring us one step closer towards a working democracy, which we don’t yet have. Or not.
    Each vote does count, but spoilt papers and voters who protest by not voting at all do nothing to move us forward. Both show a complete misunderstanding of what politics is about.
    In another decade, we could have brave, new, young leadership that we all want to vote for. In the meantime, I’d simply suggest we don’t intensify power already gone to rot. Play the elctions like a game of Scrabble. Where are the double-word and triple-word scores? Use your vote where it will offer the best score according to your understanding of the situation; for you and others.
    Choose one crisis present in SA: AMD, Health, Education, whatever. Ask yourself who can best progress with it and vote for that party.
    Personally, I don’t believe the ANC could find its way out of a paper bag, let alone improve any of the three I mentioned.

  • Pieter

    Peter, I am also a middle-class whitey and an Afrikaans-speaking one to boot. I voted ANC between 1994 and 2006 because I fully endorsed their moral position and perspectives of the time. I could not vote in the 2009 national elections but my intention was to vote for COPE because the ANC and its leaders had deeply disappointed me. Therefore, while my vote was, strictly speaking, not ‘wasted’ on COPE, my sentiments about the party are clearly almost the same as yours. In my view there is no alternative but to vote for COPE again this time. However, it would break my heart if they trampled on our trust yet again… The alternatives are frightening though. The DA is a knee-jerking, reactive political grouping, the ACDP got lost in religious archives way back, the UDM is a one-man show with absolutely no hope of ever making a significant difference in SA, and the IFP (and specifically its ageing leader) is losing its foothold on reality much faster than its many new, opportunistic off-spring see the light of day. I hope we’ll all survive the almost inevitable post-election depression! So: viva South Africa, viva!!

  • Nombu

    COPE is the only viable alternative to the ANC. The DA is just hot air nothing more. There areas where the DA will never get support “until Jesus comes” They have reached the cieling. COPE is the future of South African politics. Those who write this party off do that at their own peril

  • Barry D

    Anyone who couldn’t see that Shilowa and Lekota were just looking for a way to get back to the feeding trough deserve what they get, and should consider applying for membership of the Darwin Natural Selection Project.

  • sms nduna

    Whatever dude, no 1 pointed a gun to vote. You did that because of your hate for the movement. You and the media now want to look as if you are victims, remember victims usually don’t had choices and you guys had a choice! So deal with your decision and next time vote your own FF or DA…

  • Haze

    You say want to be “inspired”? Please note that one must learn to crawl before you can walk. And in SA that means learning how not to steal the money.

  • Thandile

    Lets get over this political idealism which is getting us nowhere and confront real politics. The ANC has failed us with their corruption, cronyism, lack of delivery and lack of accountabilty. Who can dispute that? COPE is as corrupt and is nowhere politically. The DA have done a good job in the Western Cape on most of the issues where the ANC have failed. They are not perfect – but they are opposition and they are viable. Those of you too scared to vote for the DA – let me let you in on a secret – they will not win a majority – whatever you do. The ANC has ensured there are too many tenderpreneurs, ill educated people and others dependent on them to really knock them out of power. But a stronger DA can make them more accountable. The idealism of the “struggle” is over. Lets make this DEMOCRACY work. And lets get real to do so and face FACTS not wishes. And make your vote count for something – many died to ensure you got it.

  • jack sparrow

    Oh Peter. A leopard cannot change it’s spots. This goes for Cope leaders (corrupt cadres to a man (or woman)) and the common voter (ANC sycophants; 2 in 3). Same goes for some of the DA’s ID and Nat baggage.

  • queen

    i dunno, (@anon and others) the DA won’t be too popular so long as they still appear to put interests of the ‘white/middle-upper classes’ before others.

  • Daffidoll

    Sure if u think of back then, someone must have told u u were silly to believe it could end any other way…

  • MaJust

    One main reason why ANC will not have viable alternatives is because of its deep-seated intelligence. I mean, in most townships it is known that without ANC membership card you kiss your business goodbye. Within townships, ANC membership guarantees accumulation of wealth regardless of educational or effort inputs. Beneficiaries will not blow the whistle because that will blow their ill-acquired wealth and contracts. People do not want to bite the hand that feed them. Such corruptive accruing of votes and membership is very difficult to expose. Me too, middle-aged Black do not know who to vote as truthfully, there’s none to vote for.

  • thandile

    That is exactly why the ballot is SECRET.

  • thandile

    @ Queen “i dunno, (@anon and others) the DA won’t be too popular so long as they still appear to put interests of the ‘white/middle-upper classes’ before others.”
    The fact that the ANC have abandoned the poor and put their own middle calls interests above all does not seem to affect their support?

  • Real Afrikan

    It serves you right, go on vote for DA then, we in the ANC will continue to hmmmm vote, Pambili nge ANC aluta kontinua, pambili na chimurenga

  • Charlie Mingas

    @thandile – I must say u are a pretty bright one. And I’m not being sarcastic, I mean it. I truly do commend u…!!

  • Themba

    I feel you brother. I voted for the ANC for years until the Zuma brigade came to power. Cope arrived and despite my reservations, I gave them my vote. Now, I am left with only destroying my ballot as an option instead of voting for the Open toilets party, Mangosuthu Party, Holomisa Party, anti everything, Pro Christian party, etc.

  • Themba

    How can people vote for a party that does not represent their aspirations and do not trust that it will, even when they claim it will? No party is entitled to votes if they do not deserve them and the open toilets saga tarnishes the image of the DA. the consultant fees and the beneficiation of largely white (at the expense of coloured) people in the Western Cape is one reason why reasonable people who do not see colour will not vote for either the ANC or the DA.

  • Themba

    @Rational Response
    One of my relatives was forced to relieve herself in public because the DA built her toilets without walls and roof. If that is an example of success, perhaps the ANC can build more homes and toilets, if they were to save on the walls and roofs