Saturday, March 20, 2010

To Cope in South Africa

Twitter was alight this morning with debates about Cope and their attempted, yet very-predictably-doomed-to-failure, vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma yesterday.

Some said that the no confidence motion was a desperate attempt at PR for Cope. This I would agree with - and I don't think anything is wrong with a political party searching for PR and new reaports - that's the way politics, particularly opposition politics, works. The DA does it all the time.

However, the motion was too late. A month ago, the country was crucifying Jacob Zuma because of his affair with Irvin Khoza's daughter - that included senior and junior ANC members and MPs who were criticising him. A week later it came out that he had no declared his financial interests to parliament and he got more criticism. Vavi soon launched into the ANC and the ANCYL ordering lifestyle audits. The SACP began a (nother) spat with the ANCYL who in turn made it clear that they want Gwede Mantashe replaces as ANC Secretary General by Fikile Mbalula. This was when Cope dreamed up their PR stunt - in this midst of this chaos.

However, since then, JZ went to London where he was castigated by that pathetic attempt at a newspaper - the Daily Mail - and all of a sudden people began defending him. Yes, even WHITE people! Cope's no confidence motion laagered the ANC and united - albeit temporarily - the party when it was looking to possibly splinter naturally.

And so the no confidence motion didn't do so well - for more than one reason. (EDIT - I am not saying it would have worked. JZ would never have been sacked, but a "succesful" result for Cope would have been favourable press, and hopefully a few members of the ANC would have turned on their own party)

Cope's biggest problem is that they have so many holes in their party. No matter what Cope says - meaningful, accurate or just made up - anyone can retort with "You still hanker after Mbeki" or "We may have problems, but you don't even know who your leader is". Cope also have no apparent policies, other then the forceful message of non-racialism which has failed dismally as two prominent white politicians have stormed out (ok, admittedly one is prominent because he has represented almost every political party in SA, and the other because she was the first instance of gratuitous white window dressing) . I remember Lekota going on about how BEE should be aimed at currently disadvantaged, not historically disadvantaged people. Well that message has never been communicated properly.

Cope's other major issue is that no one knows who runs the party. Is it Lekota (who has vanished)? Shilowa (who makes more noise than anyone else)? Mluleki George (who asked the offending question in Parly that caused Diane Kohler-Barnard to use the term I emphasise when the Sharks play rugby)? Or Dandala (whose face is on the election ballot, but that's about all)?

Cope's issues can be solved by simple marketing and logic.

- Firstly, stop the infighting and choose a damn leader. Do that today.And then put their face on an election ballot and in newspapers and TV.

- Secondly, there is a niche (more like gaping chasm) for a non-racial alternative to the ANC and the DA. Find it.

- Thirdly, get rid of all the Mbeki baggage. All of it. Dump it now. Otherwise people will point at you and bring it up all the things he did badly forever. The ANC has enough brand power, and political clout, to deal with it. You do not. Stop being the "We lost in Polokwane" party.

- Make your own policies. In many people's minds you are nothing more than the ANC with a different name and a nasty temper-tantrum like demeanour. Start shouting about HOW you are different to them, not just that you are.

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