Lekota expels Shilowa from Cope

Congress of the People (Cope) co-founder Mosiuoa Lekota on Tuesday expelled his rival, Mbhazima Shilowa, from the party after an internal disciplinary hearing—in which Shilowa refused to participate—found him guilty of mismanaging parliamentary funds.

The hearing found Shilowa guilty of wrongfully authorising the transfer of R5-million from the parliamentary allowance accounts to Cope party accounts and of submitting the party’s financial statements to Parliament knowing that they contained “material misrepresentations”.

It also found him guilty of authorising a payment of more than R2-million for purposes that were not legitimate or permissible.

Shilowa has consistently denied the allegations and refused to participate in the disciplinary process.

He and Lekota have been locked in a battle for leadership of the party for months. There is still no clarity on who is actually the party’s president.

“The necessary administrative processes to give effect to this decision have been implemented and Parliament has been informed of this decision,” Lekota-aligned Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said on Tuesday in releasing the findings of the disciplinary hearing.

“This is an unfortunate outcome of a sorry series of events,” he said in a statement.

Chaotic elective conference
Dexter said the disciplinary committee finalised its report on the weekend after a week spent processing the evidence presented in its hearing.

In the report, the chairperson said: “As Mr Shilowa has not offered an account of what went wrong and why, the party would be entitled to conclude that it has lost all trust and confidence in Shilowa. I recommend that he be expelled from the party with immediate effect”.

Shilowa claimed the presidency after a chaotic elective conference in Pretoria at the end of 2010.

Lekota claims the conference was abandoned after violent clashes between his supporters and those of Shilowa.

Since then, both have claimed to be the party’s legitimate president.
Neither faction admits that there has been a split.

Shilowa could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday, nor could the Shilowa-aligned acting general secretary Nikiwe Num.—Sapa

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