Mbhazima Shilowa on the launch of the COPE manifesto

Statemetnt by the first deputy president of COPE, Port Elizabeth, January 24 2009

Standing at the threshold of a historic Moment - A new Agenda is born'

Fellow South Africans the Manifesto of the Congress of the People named: A new Agenda declares without equivocation that:

‘once more our country stands at the threshold of a historic moment. We have an opportunity to implement an action plan for change in our advance to a united non racial non sexist and prosperous South Africa. For the first time since the historic elections of 1994 that ushered in our new democracy, our people have a chance to further deepen our democracy, defend the constitution and move with speed to implement the ideals of our constitution.'

In this historic document that we reveal to the country and the world to see today we call on you, the people of South Africa to vote for the People's congress - COPE, the party that has a new agenda to accelerate the national advance through a new agenda - fresh ideas on how to eradicate poverty, build our economy to broaden participation of our people as well as ensure the safety of all our citizens.

This Manifesto is a product of consultations at the national convention where South Africans rallied around a call to defend a constitutional order under siege and subsequent consultations with South Africans from all walks of life - women, the youth, faith communities and traditional leaders, minority groups.
A new Agenda

Our manifesto is anchored on the premise of better implementation of government policies so that these can become meaningful to our people and change their lives for the better.

  • On the economy: To systematically eradicate poverty and raise the standard of living of all South Africans, COPE is determined to ensure that all of our people participate in economic activities to generate the necessary income to improve their standard of living and quality of life. To achieve this strategic objective, our Government will further extend the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and improve its capacity to achieve its stated goals of developing social and economic infrastructure and expanding social services, including the provision of skills to those employed in these schemes; put measures to strengthen the implementation of the Employment Equity Act (Affirmative Action) and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment to ensure the participation in economic activities by historically disadvantaged people, especially women, youth, people with disability and the rural poor. The state should take the lead in developing procurement policies that encourages the private sector to accelerate the implementation of these policies and to achieve employment equity especially in senior management.
  • On job creation. We believe that the current South African employment climate ...for job creation resources within South Africa allow each and every citizen to be employed. We further believe that at our current state of skills we have it within ourselves to develop each other and thus ensuring that skills are developed.
  • On fighting crime. Crime should be eradicated wholistically. Crime is not only about the actual incidents that occur but also about the process from the time the complaint has been laid to the time the perpetrator has been released from prison and has been incorporated into society again. An effective police force that is equipped to understand and assist complainants of crime immediately also to an extent contributes to the societies feeling that they are being heard and something is being done to ensure they safety. The importance of the independence of the judiciary is crucial in fighting crime and strengthening the criminal justice system

A new Agenda of change

Our party is a product of the new dispensation post 1994 and therefore is premised on a need to build on a foundation build over those many years while introducing fundamental changes in the manner with which leadership is accountable and the electorate given authority over the decisions of government

  • Our proposals on the electoral system where mayors, premiers and the president of the country are elected directly by the public will bring a much needed change on the accountability of our leaders to the people.
  • This agenda for change looks forward rather than backward and will put young people in particular at the centre of bringing about the much needed change we profess and actually see it through.
  • Our manifesto speaks to a specific pledge by COPE to forward leaders who are honest servants of the people
  • We intend to change the calibre of leaders that South Africans has had to endure. Any leader who wishes to serve South Africa under the banner of COPE will, amongst others, have to be prepared to declare their assets, ensure that they are above reproach at all times and be tax compliant.
  • Greater controls on government procurement processes to avoid corruption will be introduced by a COPE government.

A new Agenda of Hope

By dealing with bread and butter issues to fight poverty, create jobs while installing a leadership you can trust COPE brings all South Africans hope. Our approach to sustainable development for example ensures the protection of our natural resources - this is not be regarded as a trade off for economic growth. A COPE government shall ensure that the environment is preserve through a commitment of government, the private sector and communities. This will be done through effective programmes and through education.

By focusing on Quality Education and Quality of Health Care we will give Hope to our people where there is despair and we will ensure a proper investment in the future of our children COPE is acutely aware of the disparity in health care between rural and urban areas and between the private and public sector. A COPE government will pay special attention to the improvement of the quality of health care.

Among other things we will ensure that primary health care model is strengthened, preventable diseases are prioritised for eradication and that we promote healthy lifestyles, the implementation of the comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy encompassing prevention, treatment, care and support for those who are affected and infected, including the provision of antiretroviral treatment and the prevention of mother to child transmission;

COPE is duty-bound to respect the provisions in our Bill of Rights which state clearly that our people have such constitutional rights as access to adequate housing, health care, food, water, education, a healthy environment and social security. We will therefore work to ensure that: all spheres of government have strong and stable state institutions to provide these services, including decent schools, housing, health care facilities, water and sewerage disposal and roads; we will use the Expanded Public Works Programme to expand and maintain the social and economic infrastructure required for the provision of the various services; COPE believes that service delivery is a right of all South Africans regardless of where they live. It is not a privilege!

COPE is acutely aware of the critical importance of education and training to meet all the challenges our country faces. We will therefore pay particular attention to this sector and ensure that all our teachers throughout the school system are trained and re-trained to empower them to discharge their responsibilities, and that we constantly work to improve their remuneration; We will ensure that school principals are properly trained, rewarded and motivated to carry out their  establish a youth cadet service, learnerships and•management responsibilities;  internships to get all school leavers to support our communities and learn the necessary skills to find decent work. A COPE government will revisit the role of parastatals in the development of artisans.

By addressing these and other issues facing our people our new Agenda will give our people the Hope that has disappeared under the current government.

In Summary our new Agenda for Hope will see a COPE government:

  • elect leaders who will fearlessly defend the constitution and uphold the rule of law;
  • systematically eradicate poverty, grow the economy, create decent work and dramatically reduce unemployment;
  • protect the environment and our• natural resources for future generations;
  • provide our people with the• necessary education and skills to realise their full potential;
  • significantly improve the quality of health care;
  • fight and reduce• crime and provide better safety and security for all;
  • empower women and• achieve gender equality;
  • empower and develop the youth to realise their• full potential;
  • strengthen families, family life and communities;• and,
  • unite the nation to act together to build a truly non-racial South• Africa.

Statement issued by the Congress of the People, Port Elizabeth, 24 January 2009