COPE ‘ambiguous’ over DA coalition in PE

COPE now seems “ambiguous” about setting up coalitions with the Democratic Alliance after the local government elections, DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip said today (May 19).

Speaking at the Independent Electoral Commission results centre in East London, Trollip said he had been left “worried” after interactions with COPE, which had said it would be open to coalitions with the DA in closely contested municipalities.

“It will be interesting to see where COPE goes now,” Trollip said.

“What worried me is that there seems to be some ambiguity among them about forming coalitions.”

The DA and COPE both expected to form a coalition against the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay after the election.

By late Thursday morning, however, with around 70% of the votes counted, the metro was well in the hands of the ANC, which had 51.4% of the vote.

The DA had 41.4% and COPE 4.9%.

Trollip said which ever way the province turned out, voters in the metro had indicated they were unhappy with the ANC’s service.

He said the DA had fared extremely well in the northern parts of Port Elizabeth, specifically in Uitenhage and Despatch.

“Our performance in those areas was historic and sets us up for an assault on the metro in the next election.”

The party had made inroads across the Eastern Cape, winning in numerous of its non-traditional areas, even picking up a seat in the ANC-dominated town of Flagstaff.

Trollip said the party’s retention of Baviaans, the only municipality it controls in the Eastern Cape, was “heroic”.

“Across the Eastern Cape we doubled and quadrupled our support, whether it was Grahamstown or Queenstown.

“The seat we won in Flagstaff was in the Transkei, which is a low-key area for the DA’s growth and the fact that we have a councillor there augurs well for the future.”

Trollip said smaller parties had kept the ANC in power in the Kouga municipality, which includes Jeffreys Bay, where the seats were split 15 to the ANC and 14 to opposition parties..

He predicted, though, that this would be the last election for smaller parties.

“This election will spell the end of smaller parties and it is now clear that the race in future will be between the ANC and DA with COPE in a distant third.”

COPE’s chief whip in parliament, Thozaqmile Botha, said he expected the party to gain more of the vote in Nelson Mandela Bay as the results still to be counted were from townships where the party was strong.

He said the party would never again work with the ANC, but he was silent on cooperation with the DA.

“We’ve criticised the ANC for not delivering in that metro,” he said. “We would not want to be associated with non-service delivery.”

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