Northern Cape Cope supports Lekota
Kimberley - The Northern Cape branch of Cope on Sunday said it recognised Mosioua Lekota as the legitimate leader of the party.
The province said it distanced itself from the "disruptive elements" that resulted in the cancellation of the recent national congress.
"This province regards itself as being above factionalism, something we demonstrated by inviting both Shilowa (Mbhazima) and Lekota to our provincial congress, it said in a statement.
"Regardless of the death wishes our opponents have heaped on us, we dare not let this party fail."
Cope's second attempt at holding an elective conference in 2010 was aborted 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.
The Sunday Times reported that Lekota and Mbhazima had to be pulled apart as they tried to attack each other at the party's elective conference this week.
Lekota and his supporters left the conference. He said he could no longer work with Shilowa and he would be calling an urgent meeting where his expulsion would be discussed.
Later on Saturday Shilowa's supporters gathered under a tree and "elected" him Cope president.
Co-founder of Cope, Mluleki George on Sunday said: "From the onset, we were never followers of an individual but believed in a dream of a credible and formidable alternative party in South Africa.
"Therefore, we were baffled by the instruction for people who follow an individual to leave the gathering of our masses as convened by the former acting general secretary."
George said he and many of the "new leadership", which he supported, had sought to distance themselves from "misleading information" given to the media.
"No one in the new leadership is raised on objection to the intervention by our masses who gathered...and installed a team following Mr Mosiuoa Lekota's storming out."
Cope does 'not belong' to Shilowa
Lekota spokesperson Phillip Dexter on Sunday said that Mbhazima was not president of a legally constituted party.
"A mob of people mostly bussed in from various townships around Pretoria and Johannesburg standing under a tree does not a congress make."
"The Congress of the People will defend itself against such corrupt people," he said in a statement.
He said Cope did "not belong" to Shilowa, but to its members and these members were not allowed to exercise their rights at the congress venue.
"(We) will therefore never recognise Shilowa or believe his call for 'unity'," Dexter said.
Cope Youth Movement said it was highly disturbed by notions that have been spread in the media that Shilowa was the president of the party.
"It is outrageous and completely contrary to the constitution of Cope and due process that Shilowa imposed himself as a president of Cope, the youth movement said in a statement on Sunday.
It said it was calling for the disciplinary committee to expedite the disciplinary hearing of Mbhazima Shilowa so that the party could proceed with the conference.