COPE deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa has approached the Johannesburg high court to appeal a verdict that nullified a vote of no-confidence passed against party president Mosiuoa Lekota.
Shilowa said yesterday's application effectively suspends the order that Lekota should be reinstated as the party's president.
"This move suspends yesterday's Gauteng south court decision pending the finalisation of the appeal. Consequently, the vote of no-confidence passed by the national congress stays put until the matter is finalised in court," he said.
But legal expert Advocate Madala Phatudi said it was incorrect for Shilowa to create an impression that the appeal resuscitates the vote of no confidence passed against Lekota.
"That can only happen after a court decides in his favour. The application does not set aside the order obtained by Lekota," he said.
Phatudi said the appeal would be a long process that could take close to a year before it comes before the court.
Shilowa said the leadership dispute should not have been taken to court but allowed to be resolved by the party.
"Cope would like to emphasise that even though the matter has unfortunately taken the centre stage in the courts as a power struggle between two or so individuals, this issue remains a political challenge that will be ultimately resolved by the branches," he said.
Shilowa said the decision to challenge the ruling was to defend the party, its constitution and integrity as mandated by a congress held in May.
He said congress was Cope's highest decision making body - higher even than the congress national committee.
Lekota's successful application was based on the argument that the CNC took a decision not to hold elections during congress. Delegates overturned an agreement of the CNC that the congress should limit itself to policy matters.
Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said the Shilowa appeal was of no consequence.