Shilowa-led Cope faction joins UDM

Mbhazima Shilowa’s Cope faction will contest the upcoming elections as part of the UDM.

Former Cope deputy president Mbazima Shilowa at the UDM press conference in Sandton on 24 February 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The United Democratic Front (UDM) has announced, at a media briefing in Johannesburg, that it will welcome members of Mbhazima Shilowa's Congress of the People (Cope) faction into its ranks.

Speaking to journalists, Shilowa said he is fully behind the integration and will assist in fundraising and campaigning.

However, he will have to limit his involvement to some extent, while he deals with an ongoing court battle. Shilowa has an interim interdict against him, and he told journalists that he needs to be available to contest that and appear in court when necessary.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa explained the move, saying "No party can win an election unless it appeals to the vast majority".

He added the new and expanded UDM will focus on good governance, improving the economy, delivering quality education and healthcare, food security and rural development, safety and security, and election reforms.

Cope broke away from the African National Congress (ANC) before the previous general elections, and won a surprising number of votes.

Soon after, internal rifts emerged, pitting leaders Mbhazima Shilowa and Mousia Lekota against each other. Shilowa was eventually expelled from the party.

Last month, he went to court to stop a national Cope conference but his application was dismissed.