top cope official lambasts lekota

Anna Majavu

Cope is struggling to contain unhappiness within the party over Mosiuoa Lekota's alleged insistence on going to Parliament.

Cope members loyal to deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa say Lekota should have stayed out of Parliament like he promised.

"Terror is killing the party because of issues of the stomach! He has no principles," said a senior Cope member who spoke to Sowetan yesterday on condition of anonymity.

The source said Lekota, Cope's president, had lobbied different party leaders before Tuesday's central national working committee meeting to send him to Parliament.

"What kind of message does this send to the public? Lekota says he will stay out of Parliament but then he does the opposite," the source said.

The source said Lekota was creating confusion because Cope had agreed that its presidential candidate, Mvume Dandala, would be Cope's parliamentary leader.

Lekota told the media earlier this year that he would work at Congress House to build the party.

"Before we went to (the ANC conference in 2007 in) Polokwane, I had already taken the decision that I was not going back to Parliament," Lekota said then.

Dandala confirmed at the time that he would "lead that team in Parliament", saying that "Lekota will devote his time to mobilising people on the ground".

But Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter says Lekota's going to Parliament is "no controversy".

"We still have our general secretary [Charlotte Lobe] working fulltime at Congress House. All of us will be involved in building the party. Lekota can build the party and be in Parliament at the same time," Dexter said.

He said Lekota would not automatically become the party's leader in Parliament but that this would be decided at next Monday's Cope central national committee meeting.

Human Sciences Research Council senior research specialist Mcebisi Ndletyana said yesterday: "They are sending mixed signals but Cope might be thinking that they need to put up an aggressive opposition to the ANC in Parliament, and that only Lekota has that robust style.

"Voters will judge Cope in 2014 based on their performance in Parliament. Cope always kept the option open for Lekota to go to Parliament anyway since they put him on their list of candidates," said Ndletyana.