Cope infighting intensifies

THE build-up to Cope's national conference is hotting up, with the party's various structures at each other's throats.

Central to tensions within the party is the leadership contest between president Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mbhazima Shilowa.

The Shilowa group - led by Cope national organiser Mluleki George and Cope youth leader Anele Mda - is said to be banking on support from Eastern Cape, Gauteng and North West.

Lekota's camp is said to have support in Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape (where he seems to have won the hearts of the Afrikaans-speaking community by speaking their language).

The party's youth movement is also divided between the two leaders, with the Free State, for example, accusing the national leadership of trying to undermine Lekota.

In a memorandum sent to Lekota and the party's congress, national committee Free State leader Charles Mgwadleka has stepped out of the youth movement's national steering committee led by Malusi Booi and Mda.

Calling for the disbandment of the national steering committee, Mgwadleka also accuses it of failing to deal with youth issues.

"Instead, they engage in programmes that put the organisation into disrepute, such as meeting Democratic Alliance leader (Helen Zille) without a proper mandate from the youth."

Mda was dismissive of Mgwadleka's call, saying disbanding the committee must be supported by other provinces.