DA aims to topple COPE as EC official opposition: Daily Dispatch

Trollip expects his party to show growth

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has vowed to remove the embattled Congress of the People (COPE) as the province’s official opposition party after the May 7 general elections.

Since the first democratic elections in 1994, the DA has been the official opposition party to the ruling ANC, pipping other opposition parties represented in the Bhisho legislature.

However, the party lost its spot as the official opposition after the much-hyped emergence of COPE in 2008 led to the new party amassing more seats in the provincial legislature in the 2009 elections.

DA MPL and party provincial leader Athol Trollip yesterday said his party was more than ready to reclaim its spot as the province’s majority opposition.

Trollip who, together with some of his party’s heavyweights went on the campaign trail yesterday in various villages around King William’s Town and Bhisho, said his party’s provincial election drive was in full swing.

He said the DA would lose no sweat in trying to reclaim their official opposition status from COPE.

Trollip yesterday led a DA delegation that included former Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela during visits to Mxhalanga, Quzini and Frankfort Villages where public meetings were held.

Today the party leadership is expected to visit areas around Komga and Great Kei Municipality, days before launching their provincial manifesto at Mdantsane’s Sisa Dukashe Stadium on Sunday where Trollip is expected to be officially unveiled as the party’s premier candidate.

“Without a doubt we will remove COPE as the official opposition in the Eastern Cape legislature after the May elections as we are expecting to show an incredible growth.

“It is quite clear COPE has suffered an enormous setback over the past few years. Their internal infighting and the fact that they lost even their credibility as the official opposition in legislatures and in parliament, is really going to hurt them,” said Trollip while addressing residents of Mxhalanga Village who had complained mostly of poor road access in their area.

COPE has been involved in factional infighting since it was formed. Leadership battles between factions supporting party co-founders Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota, have seen the party spending more time in legal courts.

COPE’s provincial secretary Archie Ralo yesterday said he was not confident that COPE will maintain its status as the official opposition.

“Truth there is a possibility the DA could achieve what they are aiming to do.

“The fact is that, on the eve of an election, we [COPE] still have two organisations in one will make it a challenge for us to maintain our status as the official opposition in the eastern Cape,” Ralo said.

The DA, which donated wheelchairs to various needy residents yesterday, also announced their intentions of winning the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro after the 2016 local government elections.