Tough to wear a Cope t-shirt, says Shilowa

2010-05-22 13:36

It’s not easy to wear a Congress of the People (Cope) T-shirt these

days, the party’s deputy president, Mbhazima Shilowa, has said.

He was speaking in Cape Town at the party’s first Western Cape

congress, as lawyers prepared to battle a high court bid by the party’s Mosiuoa

Lekota faction to halt the meeting.

Shilowa told about 400 delegates that he, like many of them, had

travelled in his Cope T-shirt “But it has not been easy people always ask me,

‘what’s wrong with you guys? Sort this thing out for our own sake’.”

He was referring to an ongoing feud between him and party president

Lekota ahead of a planned national congress, which will be the first to elect a

party leadership.

Shilowa and Lekota are both vying for the party’s presidency.

However, Shilowa told the Western Cape delegates that Cope members

had faced tougher challenges in the past:

“It’s you who should say we shall succeed in building this


No leader should stand in the way of Cope members building an

alternative political party for South Africa, he said: “We must be very clear.

If I have issues with the president I must state them in [national]


“If the president has issues with his deputy, he must state them at

congress, in a structure of the organisation.”

He said the national congress would go ahead:

“We are going to the congress next week ... There will be a


Cope should use that congress to re-connect with the voters of

South Africa and to humble itself before them:

“We need to go to the congress for renewal. I think our morale is

low. Our morale is very low. We need that revival, we need that renewal. Let

that be our pilgrimage.”

Interim Western Cape chairperson Mbulelo Ncedana told the Western

Cape congress that lawyers for the dissident faction had tried late last night

to secure an interdict to halt the meeting.

However, Western Cape High Court judge Siraj Desai had refused to

hear the application then, saying instead he would listen to arguments this

morning. By 11am, the hearing was still not under way.

Provincial secretary Mogamat Majiet said in an organisational

report distributed at the congress that the recent disunity in the organisation

had been the most difficult period in Cope’s short history.

“We are the laughing stock of South Africa and abroad,” he said.

Cope’s Western Cape office, in Parow, had budget problems, and for the past

three months it had no fax or internet facilities, said Majiet. Regional offices

had similar problems.

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