Cope's call for membership renewal met with disdain

Cope deputy president Willie Madisha. (David Harrison, M&G)

Cope deputy president Willie Madisha. (David Harrison, M&G)

A Cope member of legislature in Gauteng Clara Sodlulashe-Motau has hit back at the party's deputy president Willie Madisha after he said the party would recall MPs and MPLs who failed to renew their membership. Madisha said the majority of those who did not renew their membership were supporters of expelled former second-in-command Mbhazima Shilowa.

Madisha told the Mail & Guardian that a decision to remove some leaders was informed by a congress resolution two weeks ago.
Sodlulashe-Motau's name and that of Mpumalanga MPL Zale Madonsela have been mentioned among those that face the chop.

"Madisha is mistaken if he believes that we as members of the Congress of the People are going to be intimidated by his threats to renew membership by filling out a PRP [party renewal programme] form," Sodlulashe-Motau said in a statement this week.

She added that there was no clause in the Cope constitution that requires that a PRP form be submitted to renew membership.

"The judge [in court when two factions of the party were engaged in legal battles] advised that if such a clause is not present within the party's policy, the only structure to add or make changes to such policy is a congress, which did not make any such changes," said Sodlulashe-Motau.

Cope held its first national elective congress two weeks ago in Johannesburg, where the first properly elected leadership was put into office.

In addition to opposing plans to fire those who didn't renew their memberships, Sodlulashe-Motau said: "I have never imposed myself on Parliament nor can I be intimidated by a man who has been accused of sexual harassment and who was expelled from Cosatu for the alleged disappearance of R500 000 in 2008."

Cope's disciplinary committee cleared Madisha of sexual harassment charges in 2010. He was charged with "disrespectfully and intentionally" touching a female colleague's bum.

Sodlulashe-Motau said she would remain in the Cope leadership in Gauteng and "continue attempts to strengthen and reconcile the party while distancing the province from the divisions and unreasonable demands made by comrade Madisha.

"It would be prudent for Madisha to refrain from pressuring the already dwindling membership of the party to sign his forms and better if he were to focus on campaigning for the upcoming elections," said Sodlulashe-Motau.

Cope has been working hard to build unity and restore the faith that its supporters had in the party when it was founded in 2008, but even the recent congress could not do enough to help. The party is likely to go into this year's election a fractured force, with a fear that more voters could abandon the party.

Cope broke away from the ANC in 2008 and secured 7.8% of the national vote in 2009. A leadership battle however tore apart the party and support dropped to 2.14% in the municipal elections in 2011. The party claims members and supporters are returning in droves now that a legitimate leadership (under Mosioua Lekota) has been elected.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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