A veteran anti-racist fighter, the Rev. Allan Boesak, has joined the stream of defectors leaving the ANC Party, once lead by Nelson Mandela, for the Congress of the People – also known as "COPE".
One-time president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Boesak joined former defense minister Mosiuoa "Terror" Lekota at the party launch at the University of Free State in the town of Bloemfontein. Lekota called COPE, "the party of the future."
''The history of South Africa will never be the same again,'' said Lekota to a cheering crowd of some 4,000 delegates. ''Ours shall be a truly non-racial party that will provide a true home to all South Africans irrespective of race, class or gender.''
Also in Bloemfontein, ANC leader Jacob Zuma spoke at a rally for veterans of the former Umkhonto we Siswe ANC military wing. On neighboring Zimbabwe, he reported that efforts to press the Zimbabwe comrades to agree on a unity government were underway.
''We are concerned that they are taking longer to finalize the (power-sharing) agreement while the humanitarian situation is deteriorating,'' said Zuma, as deaths from a cholera epidemic inched closer to 1,000. ''We have a responsibility to push them all in the right direction, and will continue to do so.''
The rally marked the Day of Reconciliation, which recalls the thousands of Zulus killed in a war with Afrikaners in 1838. It is now celebrated as a day for fostering reconciliation and national unity.