Cope congress in December

2010-11-01 12:43

The Congress of the People will hold its first elective congress in December, its congress national committee decided over the weekend.

Spokesperson Phillip Dexter today said the party was “nowhere near ready” to democratically elect its first president.

“Only four provinces has been audited so far... we are nowhere near ready to go to congress,” he said.

The fledgling party was plunged into chaos shortly after the national election last year, with the battle for power between its president Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa reaching boiling point.

The party aborted an attempt to elect new leadership in May when Lekota obtained a court interdict to halt proceedings. The court ordered the party to stop the congress and reconvene it in four months – a time period stipulated by Lekota. Dexter said a “waiver” was signed in the event that the party needed more time to elect new leadership.

The Sowetan today reported that the Shilowa-aligned faction agreed to call off its elective conference scheduled for November 5 in the Free State.

Shilowa told the paper that his followers agreed to a postponement of the gathering to “avert a split” in the party which broke away from the ANC in 2008.

However, the report said, Shilowa was outnumbered at the committee meeting by Lekota supporters who wanted the elective conference postponed.

The party’s Eastern Cape chapter also over the weekend resolved that the national congress scheduled for November 5 had to go ahead, going against the decision taken by the committee.

Dexter said the committee did not have time to conclude discussions on the suspension of Shilowa, Mluleki George, and administrative whip Lolo Mashiane.

The matter was referred to the congress working committee to process the charges against the three.

Shilowa was removed as Cope’s chief whip in Parliament and Mashiane as that party’s administrative whip.

The party cited questions over an audit of the party’s financial concerns for the Shilowa suspension.

Mashiane was suspended because she allegedly refused to co-operate with accounting firm KPMG for an audit.

Dexter said Shilowa and George were suspended from their positions of leadership in the party amid allegations that they made statements that had brought the party into disrepute.

This included a statement over the holding of a national conference in the Free State in November.

Shilowa could not immediately be reached for comment today.

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