Johannesburg - Grumbling about Mosiuoa Lekota’s alleged affair with a fellow Congress of the People (Cope) caucus member is one of the main reasons the party has fallen apart.
Three senior Cope officials also told City Press that their leader’s alleged romantic ties to a senior party member, whose name is known to City Press, has been a bone of contention for at least a year.
“He has a child with this young woman. He is old enough to be her father. Because of this relationship, it has influenced decisions.
"She is commonly known as the first lady," said a caucus member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her child, is in her early 30s and placed high up on Cope’s candidate list.
Lekota, who tops the list, is 65 years old.
Asked if she had ever had an intimate relationship with Lekota, she said: “No.” But she declined to confirm or deny that her child, born in 2010, was his. “It is a private matter and I’m not prepared to discuss it.”
She did admit to a close relationship with her party leader.
“We cycle together, and we participate in the same competitions, not all the time. And we don’t cycle necessarily next to each other. In fact, he always finishes an hour before me and I feel bad about it because he is much older than me,” she said.
“Because of our positions, we work quite closely together and we spend a lot of time together.”
No response from Lekota
Lekota did not respond to City Press’s repeated text messages requesting comment.
However, he has previously refused to confirm or deny the alleged affair.
Lekota is married and has three children with his wife Cynthia. He also fathered a child with a former government official when he was still part of the ANC.
Only a fraction of Cope’s 36 MPs will remain in the party after the elections, with senior party sources confirming that many are headed for the ANC because of how Cope is being run.
Three Cope caucus members told City Press that their leader’s alleged relationship with the woman has long been the talk of parliamentary corridors.
“The caucus was shocked at what was happening,” another MP said.
At a meeting of Cope’s national office bearers in May last year at Cope’s parliament offices, its Limpopo leaders allegedly submitted an article from The New Age newspaper about the “romantic relationship” between Lekota and the woman and asked that the matter be discussed at the congress’ national committee meeting two weeks later.
“It became a point of discussion in the office bearers’ meeting and never made it to the meeting,” the caucus member who was at the meeting said.
The MP claimed Lekota insisted it was his right to have a relationship with anybody he chose to, and that any relationship with a caucus member would not contravene the party’s constitution.
He also allegedly challenged anyone to point to any such clause.
"He maintained Cope is not a cult, a sect where specific people and particular behaviour must be part of it."
But the woman, who was also at the meeting, said the discussion was “in general about relationships” and leadership qualities.
“If we are saying we want the best person in a position, how does the person’s personal life weigh in when it comes to having the best person in the position?”
She admitted sending out an SMS after the birth of her son, saying “Our little president is born.”
She said that normally, a woman would call her child a king.
“If it was a mistake to use 'president', I’m being punished for that. I should have used king, but we don’t have kings in South Africa,” she said.
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