Why I'm rejoining the ANC - Phillip Dexter

COPE's former head of communciations explains his decision to leave opposition ranks

Today, after 3 years of trying to build COPE, an organisation I was part of establishing in the period after the difficult 1998 'Polokwane' Conference as a genuine, but misguided effort to strengthen the program of the ANC, I have resigned from that party.

I will be resigning as an MP as soon as parliament re-opens. I have decided to rejoin the African National Congress, the organisation that I left just over 3 years ago.

The ANC is the only organisation that can and does advance a program I can support. It is the organisation that leads the Alliance of those forces who represent the interests of the majority of South Africans, especially the workers, the poor, of women, of youth, of children, of senior citizens and those people who are disabled.

In fact, the ANC represents the best interests of us all. With the 100th anniversary of the ANC upon us, I felt there was no better time to implement what I have believed in my own mind for a long time.

When I left the ANC to join COPE, I did so with good intentions. But it has become clear to me that whatever we set out to do when we formed COPE, that mission is one that has failed.

I joined COPE in the hope that we could defend the National Democratic Revolution and build non-racialism. I was profoundly mistaken.

Instead, COPE descended into an unparalleled chaos, of infighting, factionalism, maladministration and even corruption.

This has led me to the conclusion that whatever problems there are in the ANC, they are not the fault of any one person or a single group of people. A combination of the material conditions which prevail in our society and the choices made by leadership has created whatever weaknesses there are in the ANC.

There is no political organisation that does not have similar problems. This means these weaknesses can be overcome. I would like to contribute to strengthening the ANC, the political home I have been part of for most of my adult life. Whatever the weaknesses the ANC suffers from, its strengths far outway these.

Over the last 3 years, the exchanges between myself and some leaders of the ANC have been intense. Many a harsh word has been said in these exchanges.

For my part, I apologise for anything that I have said that was of a personal nature or which gave the impression of being disrespectful. I do stand by any principle that I have put forward.

To my parliamentary colleagues in COPE and the other opposition parties, I hope that we will remain on as cordial terms as we have despite my political choice to be part of the ANC.

One thing I have learned in this brief period outside of the ANC is that there are good men and women, patriots and cadres in all political parties. It is my hope that I can contribute to building a culture of political debate in our country that is about issues and not about attacking individuals.

I am grateful that the ANC has opened its arms to accept me back. I feel a great sense of relief that this brief interregnum, where I sought to fight for the same things as the members of the ANC do from outside its ranks, is over.

In these challenging times, unity, cohesion and self-sacrifice are needed. I hope that I can be measured to have made a positive contribution to my organisation in these terms. I call all on all members of COPE and other political parties to join the ANC!

Statement issued by Phillip Dexter, January 3 2011

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