COPE’s take on the elections

Dennis Bloem, spokesperson, Congress of the People

Congress of the People (COPE) congratulates the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for managing a very complex process efficiently and in so doing, delivering an election that was in large measure, free and fair.

Multi-party democracy has truly come of age in South Africa. The ruling party can no longer ride roughshod over the people or string them along with empty promises. Voters will now have understood the enormous power they wield.

Voters have shown they can choose to take their votes elsewhere and thereby improve the quality of their lives.

Voters will also have discovered the ruling party is not free to permit the capture of the state nor to turn the public broadcaster into a state broadcaster.

For the first time people have understood sovereignty belongs to them and every government is elected to serve the people and not any friend or relative of the political elite.

Cope, at the same time, is disappointed by the outcome of the election. At present we are collecting analyses from all quarters for consideration during the national executive meeting which will take place shortly to interrogate our poor performance.

Voters have placed a premium on their votes and we too will have to up our game to attract the votes that have gone elsewhere or nowhere.

Clearly, the 2016 local government election set a new ceiling for spending by the big parties. If the election cost the ANC R1 billion rand and the DA a similar amount, we will have to consider how to use our very scarce resources optimally.

We cannot play in the same league as the ANC or the DA. It is also opportune for us to raise the issue of having to have legislation compelling the disclosure of public funding of political parties. If this does not happen, the strong inside and outside of government will become powerful politically and economically.

This will be to the detriment of our democracy and injurious to the welfare of the people. Serious money is now influencing the outcome of an election and greater trans-parency has to prevail. Hopefully, the ruling party will see the necessity for legislation on disclosure and take active steps in introducing a green paper. Any foot-dragging in this regard will severely affect the ruling party as the smart money will have begun to move elsewhere. From our perspective, the time has come to introspect very deeply on what other factors, internal and external, combined to affect us so severely.

We will also look at what we can do to attract those who stayed away from the polls and those who failed even to register. Many poor people have had their expectations heightened once again. Once more, for the umpteenth time, they have chosen to believe the promises that were made to them.

We will continue to monitor service delivery and the reduction of social inequality.