Lekota: Cope was not ready for congress

"We had not fulfilled the obligation to set up structures at branch, regional, and provincial level," he said.

"Huge chunks claimed they had been excluded … and some provinces were far behind."

The court is trying to ascertain whether a Congress of the People conference held in May 2010 qualified as a quorum congress or an ordinary policy conference, as part of the on-going leadership battle since Mbhazima Shilowa was ousted.

Lekota said the party's congress national committee met just prior to the May 2010 event, and decided it would be a policy conference because the party was not ready for an elective congress. This body had the power to settle the matter.

The party's membership database was also dysfunctional at the time, he said.

Second attempt
"We had no foundation on which we could rely to run a credible congress."

According to Cope's constitution, party leadership elections were meant to be held in the year preceding a national election.

Lekota said that, being a policy conference, the meeting did not have the power to modify the party's constitution.

A second attempt to hold an elective congress in December 2010 was abandoned because it dissolved into violence.

Lekota said he had "lost his cool, I'm sorry to say", and tried to charge at Shilowa.

"I tried to charge him and I was blocked by a lady. I'm sorry and ashamed that it happened, but I am a human being… He was lucky that I was stopped," Lekota said, to the amusement of his supporters in the court room.

Disciplinary hearings
In February 2011, Lekota obtained an interim court order recognising him as president of the party and restraining the ousted Shilowa from claiming the title of party leader.

On February 8 that year Lekota expelled Shilowa from the party after an internal disciplinary hearing. Shilowa refused to participate. He was found guilty of mismanaging the party's parliamentary funds.

On July 18 2012, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria struck an application by a faction of Cope aligned to Shilowa off the roll. The application was to stop further disciplinary hearings against Cope members pending the outcome of the Shilowa-Lekota leadership dispute.

Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled that the application by five Cope leaders in Gauteng and Limpopo was not urgent.

The application was brought by caucus leader Ndzipho Kalipa, whip Moses Mayekiso and Clara Sodlulashe-Motau, all of the Gauteng legislature; and Solly Mokhatshoa and Mabule Motubatse of the Limpopo legislature.

Lekota opposed the application, saying it was not urgent. Cope would become ungovernable if the party could not discipline its members, he said at the time. – Sapa

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories