ANELE Mda has been suspended from her post as president of Cope's youth movement after calling Cope deputy general secretary Deirdre Carter a "stupid, white token bitch".
Cope general secretary Charlotte Lobe said: "It was a once-off incident but it speaks to the moral fibre of Cope. That's not how we expect a Cope member to behave."
Lobe said Mda had not been suspended as a member of the party and would remain a member of Parliament.
"This is not punishment, it is rehabilitation," Lobe said.
Mda has refused to talk to Sowetan but a Cope youth leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mda had been purged for challenging Mosiuoa Lekota's autocratic rule of Cope.
"Why take an informal conversation [between Carter and Mda] and want to formalise it?
"The real reason why Mda is suspended is because she asked publicly why Lekota was not made to account for contradicting Cope's policy on black economic empowerment. That was a turning point," the source said.
Mda also reportedly refused to allow Lekota to chair Cope's youth movement meetings when he arrived unannounced on a few occasions.
She also "exposed" Smuts Ngonyama for funding T-shirts bearing the face of Lekota, the source said.
Mda reportedly wanted Cope to support an investigation into the arms deal.
"After that she was perceived as a person who wanted to open a can of worms.
But if we want to pursue a corruption-free government we can't continually say this matter doesn't interest us," the source said.
The source accused Lekota of purging any Cope leader who supported Mbhazima Shilowa to be elected party president at next year's elective conference.
But a leading Cope member from the Shilowa camp disagreed.
"Everyone agreed we can't allow our leaders to make racist insults. It's against the heart of what we stand for."
Cope youth movement general secretary Malusi Booi agreed. "She was only suspended for the Carter incident."