Lekota to meet Cope over court decision

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota will meet other executive members of the party to discuss his reinstatement, he said at party headquarters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“I have already had a meeting with the general secretary [Charlotte Lobe], unfortunately the other members were not here, the top officials,” Lekota said at Cope House in Braamfontein.

“But we are going to be consulting with them to prepare for a meeting, a meeting that will pull everything together and then regularise things.”

Lekota on Wednesday won an execution order in the South Gauteng High Court, which in effect overturned a vote of no-confidence made against him at the Cope conference on May 29 and reinstated him as party president.

The conference had elected Cope deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa as acting president. Shilowa and Lobe were the respondents in Lekota’s court action.

Judge Rami Mathope, in granting the execution order, reiterated his previous judgement that the vote of no-confidence defied “natural justice” because Lekota was not present and had not been given the opportunity to defend himself.

Shilowa’s legal representative had attempted to convince Mathope that no personal harm to Lekota would occur if the execution order were not granted and that he would be still be able to occupy the physical premises of his office.

The judge rejected this argument as he said a return to the physical premises without his powers as president would damage Lekota’s political standing and career.

“It offends my sense of justice, it really does,” said Mathope. “I am persuaded that irreparable harm will be suffered by the applicants.”

Shilowa lawyer and Cope Gauteng chairperson John Ngcebetsha said they accepted the decision but it did not solve the party’s problems.

“That is what the court said and that is what we have to live with,” he said. “The fact that he can be declared president by the court does not resolve the issues facing the party. The sooner we get to a national electoral conference the better.”

‘Let my colleagues in decide’
At the same hearing, Mathope also turned down an application for leave to appeal the decision to reinstate Lekota and recommended that Shilowa’s attorneys seek redress at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

“Basically, I am saying I am not with you. You must go to the SCA,” he said. “Go to Bloemfontein. Let my colleagues in Bloem decide whether they will hear it. It’s not far.”

A meeting of the congress national committee (CNC) that was scheduled for Wednesday was postponed until next week due to uncertainty over the pending court decision, said Lekota.

The meeting would be rescheduled for next week.

Speaking at Cope House, Lekota welcomed the ruling.

“I am extremely relieved. I feel that this provides us, myself and the other leadership with an opportunity to continue the task of consolidating the branches of Cope and other structures and to properly prepare for the conference in September,” he said.

“I was very worried that if things had gone the way that had been suggested, we would never have been able to fulfil the mandate we had been given at the inaugural conference in Bloemfontein.”

In a separate court action, Lekota had successfully received an urgent interdict preventing an election from taking place before September.

However, Ngcebetsha said because leave to appeal the interdict had been granted, it could be overturned by the end of June.

“That will clear the way for a national electoral conference to proceed sometime in July,” he said.—Sapa

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