/ 30 January 2011

Lekota — Shilowa trying to create Cope confusion

Congress of the People (Cope) deputy leader Mbhazima Shilowa was doing his best to create confusion in the party ahead of the local government elections, a spokesperson for party president Mosiuoa Lekota said on Saturday.

Phillip Dexter told the South African Press Association that Lekota was still the leader of the party and that he was focusing his attention on gaining ground for the party in the municipal elections later this year.

“Mr Shilowa and others are doing their best to create confusion in the party,” Dexter said.

“Mr Lekota continues to lead the party. We are focusing on being fighting fit for the local government elections.”

Cope’s congress, held in December, was unable to elect leaders and members spent two days jeering at each other.

“The party’s congress could not constitute itself and no one was elected. All who were misbehaving were suspended,” Dexter said.

Lekota spoke earlier at a town hall meeting in Kraaifontein outside Cape Town on the suspension of Shilowa and other party members and the party’s preparations for the coming election.

“This was a meeting of branches in the Western Cape giving a report back about the suspensions of Shilowa and provincial leadership in the Western Cape,” Dexter said.

“It also deals with reconstituting structures in the Western Cape and preparations for the local government elections.”

‘We want to end dualism’
Shilowa said in Durban earlier on Saturday that come the end of February, Cope would be one party.

“We are saying to the members that we want to end dualism by the end of February,” Shilowa said at a press conference in Durban.

“It’s time we move away from internal issues to move forward. We have not paid attention to the membership. The leadership is guided by membership.

“It is people at local level who are asking for an explanation.”

The ANC-breakaway party has been plagued by a power struggle between Lekota and Shilowa, both of who claim to be the legitimate party president.

Shilowa said he was visiting different parts of the country and speaking to people on all levels.

“When leadership does not make time for membership they feel let down. We felt we should go through the country. We have been to the Eastern Cape. We are listening to people,” said Shilowa.

He said the party would apologise to the people of South Africa and fulfil the promises it had made.

He told reporters that Cope members that were in Parliament need not fear being removed.

“We have not taken any decision to remove anyone in Parliament. We don’t have a list of people that need to be removed,” he said. – Sapa