Shilowa removed as Cope chief whip

2010-10-18 15:30
Cape Town - Congress of the People deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa has been removed from his positions as the party's chief whip and accounting officer, Cope announced on Monday.

"We're not removing him as an MP," Cope spokesperson and MP Phillip Dexter told journalists at a media briefing held in party president Mosiuoa Lekota's parliamentary office.

Reading from a prepared statement, he said the decision had been reached at a regular fortnightly meeting of Cope's national office bearers.

"The chief whip (Shilowa), having filed with Parliament a declaration - purported to be confirmed by an auditor, that was in fact not - that the requisite financial systems were in place to manage money… the meeting decided to remove Mr Shilowa as chief whip of the party in Parliament, and as the accounting officer," Dexter said.

Dexter also announced the removal of Cope's administrative head.

"(The meeting decided that) the administrative whip and liaison at Parliament, Ms Lolo Mashiane, having refused to co-operate with the forensic audit being conducted by KPMG, also be removed from her positions," he said.

A copy of a declaration, submitted by Cope to Parliament, was distributed to journalists. The document, dated January 29 this year, declares that the party "has in place effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control".

'Deeply aggrieved'

It was signed, alongside the printed name "M Shilowa". In a space marked "Auditor" the name "Anton Louw" was printed.

Louw is an accountant with the firm Visser Louw. In a letter addressed to the party, dated October 14 this year, copies of which were also handed to journalists, Louw has distanced himself from the declaration document.

"My name... was printed on this document... I always sign my signature. At the date of the letter I was not involved with Cope and as to date have had no dealings with Cope," he said.

Speaking at Monday's briefing, Lekota said Cope's leadership was "deeply aggrieved" that a false declaration had been submitted to Parliament.

"The point of the matter is that the party is very deeply aggrieved about the false information having being filed on its behalf, and that's why we have taken this... step immediately to remove Mr Shilowa as our chief whip and accounting officer," Lekota said.

Monday's announcement comes as Cope is undergoing a forensic investigation of its finances by audit firm KPMG.

Lekota and Shilowa, both former senior African National Congress members, have long been at loggerheads over control of the party.

Dexter on Monday also announced appointments to fill the positions from which Shilowa and Mashiane have been removed.

"(The meeting decided) to appoint (Cope MP) Mr Thomazile Botha as acting chief whip and accounting officer, and (Cope MP) Ms Julie Killian, who is currently the House whip, to act as administrative whip and liaison with Parliament," he said.

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