Court to rule on Cope

2010-06-05 11:48

The South Gauteng High Court will rule tomorrow on whether embattled

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosioua Lekota can keep his position as

party president.

Lekota took his party to court following its decision to pass a

motion of no confidence in him at its national congress last weekend.

The third largest opposition party “recalled” Lekota after he went

to court to obtain an urgent interdict preventing it from electing new leaders

until September.

The party has since appealed the interdict, but the South Gauteng

High Court is only expected to rule on the matter this week.

On Friday, Lekota’s legal team challenged the validity of the

motion of no confidence arguing that the party’s constitution did not provide

for such a motion.

The leader of the legal team, Hilton Epstein, SC, argued that last

weekend’s conference was entitled to take policy decisions only as it had been

convened as a policy conference by the party’s congress national committee

(CNC).

Epstein also argued that the party’s constitution required that

voting on a matter should be done by secret ballot, and said there was no

evidence that that had happened when the party passed a motion of no confidence

in both Lekota and former spokesperson Phillip Dexter.

Cope’s legal team, headed by Tim Bruinders, SC, argued that the

conference had been an elective one until the CNC took a decision to change it

when conference delegates had already started arriving last Thursday.

He said Lekota and Dexter had remained outside the meeting

following Saturday’s court interdict and suggested that they had known that the

conference would pass a motion of no confidence in them.

Bruinders said: “When the congress heard about the court order,

they said office-bearers can’t behave in that manner, so there was a motion of

no confidence.”

At some point Judge Rami Mathopo asked: “Is this how presidents are

removed?”

To which Bruinders replied: “This is an unelected president. Yes.

They were appointed by way of a resolution and can be removed by way of a

resolution.”

Mathopo later adjourned the hearing asking the legal

representatives of the Mbhazima Shilowa-led Cope faction and Lekota’s lawyers to

agree on a solution to the dispute as this would hamstring the way the party

works in Parliament and provincial legislatures, but they later came back and

said they had not been able to find a solution.

Mathopo asked: “What must happen to this organisation with all

these warring factions. Is litigation the solution?”

Cope spokesperson Onkgopotse Tabane said Cope was willing to go

through a mediation process with Lekota under the leadership of “Cope elders”,

but this had been rejected by Lekota.

Dexter said they had rejected the idea of mediation as they felt

there would be “no level playing field” as long as Lekota was out of

office.

Dexter said: “How do you go on conciliation with people who change

agreements? As far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong with going to

court.”

 

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