Shilowa to stay in the Cope race

2010-10-10 14:38

Congress of the People (Cope) deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa has stopped short of resigning from the party after members of the organisation persuaded him to stay.

Speaking to City Press yesterday, Shilowa – who was until recently in an ugly leadership battle with Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota – said he had contemplated quitting the race for the president’s position but “was told in no uncertain terms” it was not up to him to make that decision.

Shilowa said he wanted to withdraw his candidacy for the party’s presidency and any other party position to avoid a repeat of the fiasco at Cope’s congress in May.

The next congress is due in November.

He said it was also important that he took into account the difficulty Cope members endured after joining the party. He did not want it to fragment and split.

Some of those who joined Cope, Shilowa said, were ordinary people, but some of them had worked in the public sector and lost their jobs for supporting it.

Others lost their businesses or opportunities.

He said that the people he consulted before he made his decision had told him that unity in the party “did not rest on the shoulders of one man” but on the entire organisation.

Shilowa described them as a “mixed bag” of his supporters, friends and opponents.

“This meant then that I had to say well, fine, I will stay the course but they will have to take responsibility for ensuring that things move,” he said.

“If I am nominated, I will accept because I have been told in no uncertain terms that I must accept .?.?. and let the process run its course.”

Shilowa said the May congress would have gone ahead had the presidency been uncontested. Lekota won a crucial court victory after that congress and narrowly escaped being ousted.

Shilowa said it was important for Cope to go to the November congress and elect new leaders as this would put it in a position to “reinvent and reinvigorate itself”.

“Firstly, we will be in a position to once more re-energise the broader membership to feel they can defend the party and its policies.

I think at the moment most of them feel demoralised, disillusioned, and think the party is losing direction.

“Secondly, the congress will allow the party to articulate its vision for the next five, 10 to 15 years and, thirdly, give us an opportunity to put in new leadership.”

Turning to the KPMG forensic audit which some claimed was the main reason he wanted to resign, Shilowa said this was not the case. He confirmed, however, he did not want to cooperate with the KPMG team as it could be used as “a hired gun”.

The team is to interview him tomorrow.

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