A Brief History of Factionalism and New Party Formation and Decline in South Africa: The Case of Cope

There is little analytical literature on the theory and empirical analysis of
party factionalism that leads to splits and the formation of new political
entities. The existing theoretical literature identifies factors and processes
that are split-enabling. When coupled to the dynamics of organisational
change, these conceptual tools provide a unique framework for analysing
party-political dynamics in South Africa from an historically comparative
perspective. This analysis identifies key trends in party splits in both ‘white’
and ‘black’ politics, which serves to illuminate more recent developments
with regard to the realignment of opposition politics in South Africa. A
conceptual framework combining organisational theory with the literature
on party factionalism and party splits has facilitated our case-study focus
on the formation, electoral performance and decline of the Congress of the
People (Cope) as an opposition party in South Africa. We argue that Cope
emerged from factional disputes within the ANC and has subsequently
largely been shaped by the dynamics of its split and formation from the ANC,
despite its attempt to break ties with the parent party. Existing analyses of
Cope examine its performance in terms of policy, electoral and oppositional
performance, while the approach this article adopts is to argue that the
process of Cope’s formation significantly shaped the conditions of its future
internal dynamics and political performance.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: 2007 Polokwane Conference, ANC, Congress of the People (COPE), Jacob Zuma, Lekota, Shilowa, Thabo Mbeki
journal of african elections vol14 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa