Lekota back in Parliament
Cape Town - Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota was sworn in as a Member of Parliament by National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu on Wednesday.
This followed Wednesday morning's court ruling clearing the way for him to take up a seat in the Assembly.
Cope MPs applauded loudly as Sisulu made the announcement, with Lekota smiling broadly.
Western Cape High Court Judge Essa Moosa ruled that a July 2 decision by Cope's congress national committee (CNC) to send Lekota to Parliament was "lawful and of full force and effect".
Lekota replaced Cope's former parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala.
Moosa said the CNC decision was not in contempt of an earlier court order - obtained by Lekota himself - interdicting Cope from changing its representation in Parliament.
Moosa also ruled that a CNC decision to remove Mbhazima Shilowa as Cope's chief whip in the National Assembly was "unlawful and of no force and effect".
He said the same of a CNC move to oust administrative whip Lolo Mashiane.
The principles of natural justice dictated that the CNC should have first allowed them answer the charges of financial misconduct against them before divesting them of their posts.
"This ruling offers a lifeline to Cope: it either swims or it sinks," Moosa said.
He ordered that the costs of the hearing be paid by Cope or by Lekota, rather than by Shilowa, who launched the court challenge.
'A different time'
Shilowa had sought to overturn the CNC decisions on the basis that, among other things, the body was not properly convened or quorate.
Shilowa, who was at court on Wednesday to hear Moosa's decision, said he would issue a statement later.
Lekota told journalists at a media briefing just after the court ruling that one of the first things he was going to do was go to Parliament "to fill up the gap left by Dr Dandala".
He said the ruling allowed the party to go ahead in implementing all the July 2 CNC decisions.
"This judgment places us in a position in which we can now take matters of the Congress of the People forward as a united force," he said.
He denied that the CNC had ever removed Shilowa and Mashiane from their posts, saying they had merely been relieved of financial responsibilities.
Asked how the party would pay the costs of the hearing, he said: "We will be able to deal with that, sir, I can assure you... everything's under control."
He said it was not correct that Cope had only R100 000 in the bank.
Asked why he and Shilowa were still holding separate media briefings, he said he would let his spokesperson Philip Dexter "deal with that later".
Challenged on his statement ahead of the last general election that he had no aspirations to sit in Parliament, he said: "Political decisions are always time bound... it was a different time, circumstances were different."