Waiting for ‘due process’

2010-05-06 00:00

WITH only three weeks left before the Congress of the People (Cope) holds its first elective congress, KwaZulu-Natal has yet to decide on its preferred presidential candidate and six top leaders.

In an interview with The Witness yesterday, Cope KZN secretary Philip Mhlongo said the decisions will be made once the party’s general secretary Charlotte Lobe has provided them with guidelines for candidate nominations.

“The resolution taken in our recent provincial policy meeting stated, among issues, that the upcoming national congress is the convention of branches for Cope in South Africa,” Mhlongo said.

“Such branches shall pronounce themselves on policies first and decide on who should take the organisation forward.”

Mhlongo said, until then, Cope KZN believes that it would be impro­per for it to start announcing its preferences, as this would be occurring in the absence of guidelines.

The much anticipated Cope conference is scheduled to take place in Pretoria from May 27 to May 30.

The battle for Cope’s leadership is expected to be between its current president, Mosiuoa Lekota, and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa. As a result of the reported rivalry between Shilowa and Lekota, Cope is said to be divided into two factions.

Lobbying for the two leaders has already started, and the party’s national youth wing, the Cope Youth Movement, is openly supporting Shilowa.

There are also reports about circulating candidate lists within the ranks of the organisation, despite the fact that no formal lobbying has been authorised.

The congress national committee is expected to hold its last meeting on Friday next week before handing over to an indepen­dent body to run the election.

Despite reported denials from Cope KZN chairperson Lucky Gabela, the province is expected to support Lekota, since it is regar­ded as his “second home”.

Gabela was responding to an announcement by Cope leaders in the Ugu region that said all 11 of the party’s provincial regions will vote for Lekota at the conference.

Furthermore, Cope’s chairperson in Ugu, Bheki Khuse, said regions backed Lekota’s call for an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of party funds.

This came after Lekota last week accused Shilowa of being unable to account for R20 million in funding received by the party’s parliamentary caucus after last year’s elections.

However, Lekota has since apologised for the allegations, calling it an “error of judgement”.

Cope in the eThekwini region issued a statement on Tuesday, distancing itself from the Ugu pronouncement.

eThekwini regional chairperson Musa Xaba said they would wait for due process.

Reported rifts in the leadership of Cope have arisen amid dwindling support for the party, that, according to an Ipsos Markinor survey, has dropped by more than five percent since the April elections last year.

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