COPE vs Cope...

2010-12-18 22:21

Johannesburg - The Congress of the People - clearly divided into two factions - spent Saturday sending out a flurry of statements disputing the other's legitimacy.

In a press statement titled, "New Cope Leadership vows to unify and defend the party," Mbhazima Shilowa declared his leadership as the "lawful custodians of the Cope trademark and name.

"We will... move with speed to protect our brand and restrain anyone who unlawfully uses our name.

Furthermore, we will defend any legal action that is contemplated against the organisation," he said.

Shilowa said his party wished the "Lekota splinter group" "luck in their new endeavours but we are steadfast in our mission to build COPE."

Cope's second attempt at holding an elective conference this week was reported as a failure after violence erupted between supporters of Lekota and his first deputy president, Mbhazima Shilowa.

The leadership battle between the two has seen the party embroiled in mud-slinging matches and political contests since the formation of the ANC breakaway group in 2008.

Conference a failure

On Friday, Lekota admitted that this week's attempt at an elective conference had been a failure, as it had not even managed to begin.

However on Saturday, the national secretary Malusi Booi of the COPE youth movement aligned to Shilowa said that "the elective congress continued to adopt the constitution, refined and adopted policy discussions... and further elected a central national committee which is led by Mbhazima Shilowa."

However, also on Saturday, Lekota-aligned party spokesperson Phillip Dexter said that he was responding to reports that Shilowa "chose to anoint himself as President of Cope by holding an election after the vast majority of delegates had left the arena".

"We would like to place on record that the elective congress was not under way.

"In fact it was never constituted and as such the decisions of Shilowa's splinter group has no legal standing whatsoever."

He said the congress was never opened or accredited.

"If these reports are true, Shilowa and those who availed themselves for nomination for leadership positions have effectively left the party and formed an organisation of their own. Whatever they choose to call it, it is not the Congress of the People."

Also on Saturday, the Shilowa-aligned Booi, called for the expulsion of Lekota - suggesting that he start another party.

"The youth movement will call for the party to expel Lekota, Deidre Carter, Smuts Ngonyama, Phillip Dexter and Thozamile Botha for bringing the name of the party into disrepute," said Booi.

"We believe that Mr Lekota and his cohorts can go and form their organisation if they feel so because everyone joins an organisation voluntarily."

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