COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota's chances of continuing to be the party leader have suffered a severe blow.
The Cope Youth Movement yesterday endorsed Mbhazima Shilowa as the preferred candidate to lead the party.
Cope is to hold its elective conference in May 27 to May 30.
Lekota and Shilowa formed the party after they broke away from the ANC.
Sowetan has learnt that the Cope youth blamed Lekota for the failure of the party to attract members who initially sympathised with the group that broke away from the ANC to form Cope
They also blame Lekota for failing to lure some of his former colleagues in president Thabo Mbeki's administration - who had initially endorsed the formation of Cope.
A source in the party's national executive committee said: "Those ministers who resigned with Mbeki, who are still not active in ANC structures, have not joined Cope.
"The whole Cope idea was hinged on the fact that Mbeki was ill-treated by the ANC and the fact that the ANC unilaterally dismissed a sitting president without the voters having a say. The question is why did Mbeki not join Cope."
Another source said Lekota's drive to get funding from the Afrikaans business community had yielded no results and "only served to isolate black funders".
"It was because of this that black business people switched the taps off Cope. Even on the eve of the elections, it was these business people who suggested Reverend Mvume Dandala to help with the campaign."
Other sources said Lekota was never a favourite candidate for the youth. "Terror's biggest problem is his ego and how he conducts himself in meetings where he is very intolerant. He is some kind of a bully."
The executive member added that Lekota's decision to go and pay homage to slain right-wing leader Eugene Terre'Blanche had also cost him politically.