Tension grips Cope conference

2010-05-26 13:25

The mood remains tense at the headquarters of the Congress of the

People (Cope) in Johannesburg where the top leadership of the party are holding

last-minute talks to avoid a shambolic conference.

The talks happen ahead of the second biggest opposition party’s

elective conference this coming weekend.

There are rumours that a faction led by party president Mosiuoa

Lekota plans to split if their rival faction, led by Mbhazima Shilowa, refuses

to postpone the conference and to compromise on leadership positions.

While the congress national committee (CNC) meeting continued,

purported correspondence between a Cope member called Andries Keun and Lekota

about a “worst-case scenario” and a “Plan of Action to gain control of the

organisation” circulated inside the party’s headquarters.

The “correspondence” alludes to a mass meeting that should be

convened where one faction would “confirm our identity as the real Cope” and the

legal action that should be mounted “in order to retain the identity of the


Two Cope leaders confirmed that there is talk of a planned split,

but others have denied that there will be a split.

Cope national organiser Mluleki George told City Press that “there

is no split”.

Cope leader Thozamile Botha, who is aligned to Lekota, said there

was no planned split.

“There is no planned split. But if a split happens, it will happen

by itself. All I know is that there’s negotiations and you can’t predict the

outcome,” Botha said.

KwaZulu-Natal Cope leader Phillip Mhlongo told City Press that

archbishop Desmond Tutu and Frank Chikane, who were invited speakers at the

conference, had pulled out because of the squabbles.

However, Mhlongo expressed confidence that the “comrades” will find each other and avoid further conflict.

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