Shilowa wants ConCourt to hear Cope spat
Johannesburg - A judge in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg recused himself on Monday from presiding over the legal battle over the leadership of Cope, according to the faction of the party that recognises Mosiuoa Lekota as its leader.
Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya declared that he had a conflict of interest because he was a member of the Independent Electoral Commission, the Lekota faction said.
Monday's hearing was brought about by Mbhazima Shilowa applying to have set aside a February interdict declaring him a non-member of Cope and his co-founder of the party, Lekota, its president.
Shilowa faction spokesperson Phillip Mhlongo asked why the judge had taken more than five months to declare the problem he had presiding over the case.
"Whilst [the Shilowa faction of] Cope respects the judiciary, it cannot allow abuse of citizens in the hands of irresponsible judges who only seek to protect their narrow interests at the expense of citizens," said Mhlongo.
He said his faction now had its sights set on the Constitutional Court, which he hoped would prioritise Cope's leadership battle as it had dragged on for too long.
Mhlongo said his faction "understands that various domestic and foreign forces have competing interests on our internal affairs".
"We understand that those of us who succumbed to right-wing forces are to be protected at all costs to frustrate our forces and exhaust them in the process to surrender."
Meanwhile, the faction loyal to Lekota's leadership, came out in support of Monday's court ruling. "[The Lekota faction of] Cope accepts and understands the decision of the judge and the reasons given," it said in a statement.
"As a consequence of the judge's recusal, the case has been removed from the court roll pending Mr Shilowa applying for a new date."
In February, Lekota announced that Shilowa had been expelled from the party for mismanaging Paliamentary funds - a charge Shilowa has consistently denied.