Cope rivals cause giggles

2011-02-10 22:51

Parliament - Cope's disgruntled co-founders Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa hesitantly sat beside each other in Parliament on Thursday evening as President Jacob Zuma delivered his state of the nation address.

When cameras focused on the edgy pair, MPs and guests burst out in laughter for just over a minute.

Zuma looked up to notice the two and quickly stifled a chuckle before returning to his address.

In recent weeks, Lekota and Shilowa have been at loggerheads over who was their party's true leader.

Ahead of the address, Lekota told reporters that there would be no showdown at the opening of Parliament.

"No, there will be no showdown. This is the opening of Parliament... and the Speaker is there," he said as he walked toward the red carpet on Thursday afternoon.

Happy for him

Print, radio and television crews jostled for space around a jovial Lekota who looked suave in black pants and a tweed coat.

He told reporters that the party had received a letter from Parliament explaining that he was recognised as president of the party.

"The presiding officer explained that they recognise [the party's] leadership as registered by us last year.

"They have received our letter indicating Shilowa has been expelled," he said.

Lekota said Shilowa was "okay".

"I'm very happy for him, he must be here somewhere," he laughed to the cameras around him.

Shilowa claimed the presidency after a chaotic elective conference in Pretoria at the end of 2010. Lekota claims the conference was abandoned after violent clashes between his supporters and those of Shilowa.

Since then, both have claimed to be the party's legitimate president. Neither faction admits that there has been a split.

Read more on:    cope  |  mbhazima shilowa  |  jacob zuma  |  mosiuoa lekota  |  parliament 2011  |  politics  |  state of the nation

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