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lekota, shilowa in two-way race for cope helm

By Zukile Majova | Jan 28, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE succession race in the Congress of the People has narrowed down to party president Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa.

THE succession race in the Congress of the People has narrowed down to party president Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa.

The party's parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala, who was previously viewed as a third option in the race, has thrown his lot with Shilowa to oust Lekota.

Cope sources say the party leadership race has been narrowed down to a two-way race as Dandala and the religious clique fall out of favour.

Insiders told Sowetan the party's elective conference later this year would mark the end of the founding president, along with his backers.

The Shilowa camp also boasts the backing of former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema, Onkgopotse JJ Tabane, party secretary Charlotte Lobe and Thozamile Botha.

Lekota, on the other hand, has the support of Smuts Ngonyama and deputy secretary Deidre Carter, spokesperson Phillip Dexter and treasurer Hilda Ndude.

A member of the party's national executive told Sowetan the leadership succession race was now a two-horse race.

"Lekota is largely supported by people who say Shilowa was a junior while they were in the ANC and cannot suddenly become his senior. It's those people who know that they are facing the end of their political careers, especially if they are not elected at conference."

The source said the youth backed Shilowa because he represented a new approach to politics and was "not so committed to ANC traditions".

The party has been battling to shake off the influence of the ANC.

Sowetan has also learnt that Shilowa's supporters have vowed to oust Lekota, with early indications showing Shilowa had the backing of seven provinces.

During a meeting held at Emperors Palace near Johannesburg to choose who would lead the party's campaign for the 2009 elections, Lekota was only nominated by the Free State and KZN provinces.

"It was that problem that made people to suggest the introduction of Dandala. Members are aware that Shilowa is the preferred choice, which is why they have been restless," another executive committee member said.

Dexter said the party was aware of the concerns of the youth and was scheduled to meet its youth wing next week.

"I cannot say there is no lobbying going on but I can say we have not initiated any discussion on leadership so far."


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