Congress of the People (Cope) co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa will challenge an interim order barring him from Parliament, his spokesperson said on Monday.
“We have also instructed our attorneys to inform Parliament and the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] of our intention to challenge the interim order,” said Sipho Ngwema.
He said Shilowa’s legal team had been instructed to challenge the order by the Cope congress national committee.
Shilowa and his fellow Cope co-founder, Mosiuoa Lekota, are both claiming the presidency of the party.
The Lekota-aligned faction announced last week that an internal disciplinary committee had 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 his guilt and refused to participate in the disciplinary hearings.
On Friday, Shilowa was barred from Parliament after the South Gauteng High Court granted an interim order in favour of the Lekota faction.
Shilowa received a 250-page court document relating to the application at midnight on Thursday, just hours after sitting on a bench next to Lekota during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address at the opening of Parliament.
The order interdicted Shilowa from misrepresenting himself and ordered him not to interfere with Cope’s bankers. He was also prohibited from preventing Lekota or his office bearers from carrying out their business at Cope’s Johannesburg offices.
“Whilst we believe the court erred in granting the interim order under the circumstances, we welcome the ruling that [the] president could file a challenge of the interim order within 24-hours notice to the applicant,” said Ngwema.
He said a Cope national congress meeting was held in Cape Town at the weekend when members resolved to throw their weight behind Shilowa and challenge the interim ruling.
“This will also assist Parliament and the IEC to reach final determination about real leaders of the organisation,” he said.
“For the past two years the organisation has been embroiled in a protracted political battle which has led to the current unparalleled confusion and depletion of our movement.
“Since July last year, Lekota has removed his opponents from parliamentary leadership positions and dispensed more patronage to his loyalists by unilaterally installing them in leadership positions,” said Ngwema.
Plagued by a power struggle
He said the meeting resolved to appoint Shilowa as its leader in Parliament and to appoint Mluleki George as its chief whip in the National Assembly.
It also resolved to suspend with immediate effect Patrick Gerhard Lekota, Hilda Ndude, Phillip Dexter, Thozamile Botha, Deidre Carter, Smuts Ngonyama, Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Leonard Ramatlakane, Kalipa Ndzipho and Julie Killian.
However, it was reported on Monday that the meeting was “illegal”, that the faction failed to hold a press conference called afterwards and that its leaders did not return phone calls in the afternoon.
The ANC breakaway party has been plagued by a power struggle between Lekota and Shilowa for months.
According to the Lekota faction, Cope’s chaotic elective conference in December was abandoned due to violence and disruptions. However, the Shilowa camp claims the conference held a legitimate election and a new leadership was appointed. — Sapa