Audit is nothing personal, says Lekota

The audit of the Congress of the People’s (Cope) Parliamentary finances was not aimed at vilifying deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa, party president Mosiuoa Lekota said today.

“From the outset, this investigation into the party’s finances in Parliament was never levelled at an individual,” Lekota said in a statement.

However, he added that Shilowa was “very reluctant” as the party’s chief financial officer to account for these funds.

Lekota said the “speculation” doing the rounds after Shilowa attended an interview with audit firm KPMG regarding the investigation into Cope’s finances “suggests” that Shilowa now believed he was “cleared of any wrong doing”.

“I am satisfied that he has now assisted the auditors with their investigation. The party awaits their report with much anticipation.

“This report will help the party decide whether there has been any misuse, waste or maladministration of these funds,” Lekota said.

He added that he would be “relieved” if no misuse was found but if “indefensible acts” were committed, the party would be requested to take action.

Shilowa yesterday reportedly told journalists that the forensic audit found no evidence against him.

The Sowetan reported that Shilowa invited the media to his interview with the auditors but that Lekota had given strict instructions that the meeting be held behind closed doors.

The wrangling over party finances was part of the broader battle to lead the party between Shilowa and Lekota, Shilowa told journalists.

“This audit was about (Lekota) eliminating an opponent. The audit was meant to tarnish my name but it has turned out that nobody is able to say that Shilowa has embezzled funds,” he said, as quoted in the Sowetan.

The fledgling party has yet to hold its first national elective conference due to the battle for power fought between the two former ANC heavyweights.

The election was postponed to later this year after an aborted attempt in May.

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