Johannesburg - The UDM and Mbhazima Shilowa's Cope faction have
started integration talks, with a national task team set up to determine if any
of the Cope members are interested in going to Parliament as part of the UDM.
Earlier on Monday, United Democratic Party leader Bantu
Holomisa and Shilowa announced that more than 800 of Cope's Shilowa's
supporters will join the UDM.
The delegates representing Congress of the People branches
from eight provinces held their own summit in Bloemfontein, after being left
out of the party's national congress, Shilowa said, reading from a statement
written by himself and Shilowa.
"The summit mandated Mr Mbhazima Shilowa to engage with
the United Democratic Movement to take the realignment debate forward. The
result of the talks between the two delegations was that these branches will
support and mobilise for the UDM in the forthcoming general elections,"
Shilowa not part of integration
The process of integration was under way. However, Shilowa
would not be party to the integration for personal reasons. Shilowa said he
supported the integration and would help the UDM with fundraising and
campaigning, but he stopped short of announcing his own defection to the party.
He said he had an interim interdict against him which he had
to attend to.
"The personal reasons are simply because [there is] an
interim interdict which I will need to attend to, and I would not want that to
impact on this process."
He did not elaborate.
"My presence here says two things. Firstly that I'm
fully behind the particular process, but secondly that I will be available to
assist in this process, be it campaigning, be it fundraising... I will be doing
all of those things and working with them [UDM]," he said.
Shilowa said his future in Cope was the same as those 800
members who had been excluded.
Cope leadership battle
Shilowa has been embroiled in a court battle with Mosiuoa
Lekota over who was the rightful leader of Cope.
It started when Lekota expelled Shilowa from the party after
an internal disciplinary hearing found him guilty of mismanaging the party's
parliamentary funds. Shilowa had refused to participate.
On 18 October last year, the South Gauteng High Court ruled
that the Cope faction led by Lekota, who was elected party leader during its
inaugural congress in Bloemfontein in 2008, was the party's legitimate leader.
Following the ruling Cope held its national congress in January this year at
which Lekota was re-elected.
The North Gauteng High Court dismissed a last-minute bid by
Shilowa and members aligned to him to stop the party's national elective
congress from going ahead.
List of candidates
Holomisa on Monday said the integration between the UDM and
the Cope faction had started and a national task team had been set up.
The task team's first job would be to determine whether
there were people within Cope who were interested in going to Parliament.
The UDM had until 12 March to hand in its list of candidates
for Parliament to the Independent Electoral Commission, he said.
"The deadline for the IEC list is not going to wait for
us. The UDM is busy finalising its list."
Holomisa said the party was on course.