Cope battle heats up

2010-04-29 12:25

There is no

attempt by anyone in the leadership of the Congress of the People (Cope) to

cover up anything, members of the party’s leadership said this afternoon.

Cope parliamentary

leader, Mvume Dandala, and Charlotte Lobe, Cope’s general secretary, were

responding to allegations of financial mismanagement made by Cope President

Mosiuoa Lekota against Mbhazima Shilowa, the party’s deputy


Lekota outlined

the alleged mismanagement of about R20 million from the Independent Electoral

Commission (IEC) by Shilowa at a hastily convened press conference in Cape Town.

He addressed the media in order to deal with accusations levelled

against him in what is proving to be a bruising leadership battle ahead of the

party’s national congress set for the end of next month.

These include accusations by the Cope Youth Movement that he is

dictatorial and “planting anarchy” in the organisation.

Although flanked by his lieutenant, Philip Dexter, Lekota cut a

lonely figure situated in front of banners of a party beset with


Outlining his concerns, Lekota said in the 12 months since Cope had

been represented in Parliament, the party’s national caucus was yet to receive a

report of how much money had been allocated to it at parliamentary or provincial

legislatures or how it had been spent.

Lekota said: “The national caucus is yet to see a budget of how

such funds are employed, if employed at all, or to see balances in various


He said he had brought this to the attention of the congress

working committee (CWC) – the party’s highest decision-making body – and

insisted an independent audit of all accounts take place before the election of

new leadership at the national conference but his efforts had not been


His insistence on receiving “explanations regarding this matter”

had “ruffled feathers in some quarters”, he said, and he believed attempts to

discredit him were led by those who wished to block a probe into the party’s


He was also “very anxious” that party leadership including himself

was in violation of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and

was seeking legal advice on the matter.

He said the “hard facts” were that Shilowa, as accounting officer,

should have appointed an auditor to manage public funds entrusted to the party

two months after the start of the financial year.

“That was not done,” Lekota stated.

Shilowa’s reponse

This morning, Shilowa told SAfm he did not think it appropriate to

respond “emotionally” to the allegations, as it would damage Cope’s


Shilowa said: “I’m not in the country at the moment so I’m not

aware of the full statement and context. It would not be appropriate for me to


Dandala and Lobe said that the concern about the state of

parliamentary funds had been brought to the attention of the CWC “recently”.

They said: “The CWC agreed that the matter belongs in the audited

financial statements that will be prepared for all the structures of Cope.

“The CWC, however, has gone further to put a committee in place to

investigate these concerns given how seriously they viewed this matter. This

committee is due to report to the CWC when it next meets and relevant decisions

can be taken at that point.”

- West Cape News

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