Cope sets eyes on Mlambo-Ngcuka

SUPPORT: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 26/07/2008. © GCIS
SUPPORT: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 26/07/2008. © GCIS

THERE is strong lobbying inside the Congress of the People to have former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka take over the leadership of the party.

THERE is strong lobbying inside the Congress of the People to have former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka take over the leadership of the party.

And the people who are canvassing for Mlambo-Ngcuka have already proposed that the other two contenders, Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota, pull out of the race.

"We want Mlambo-Ngcuka to stand unopposed when the party holds its conference next month," a source said.

"The current Cope president (Lekota) and his deputy (Shilowa) have failed to build the party into an effective force in South African politics," the source said.

The lobby group is on a nationwide campaign to persuade Cope members in branches, regions and provinces to reconsider their nomination of Lekota and Shilowa as presidential candidates ahead of the party's first elective conference.

Sowetan understands the availability of Mlambo-Ngcuka has resulted in the provinces endorsing the decision to postpone their provincial conferences.

This effectively nullifies the existing nominations of Lekota and Shilowa.

Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter confirmed that provincial conferences were postponed but only "until audits are finalised".

Another source inside Mlambo-Ngcuka's camp said the former deputy president was not prepared to engage in a battle for positions.

"She is not willing to contest for the presidency of the organisation. If Cope members want her to lead they have to acceptthat condition."

The struggle to clear the path for a smooth takeover of Mlambo-Ngcuka was executed in Gauteng on Wednesday when chairperson Lawrence Khoza condemned a media briefing where the nomination of Shilowa was announced.

Khoza told Sowetan the press briefing that was addressed by provincial secretary John Ngcebetsha was divisive.

"The executive has never deliberated on any regional launch reports though there have been complaints from some areas," Khoza said.

He said he supported the call for the postponement of all provincial conferences.

"The postponement will give the provinces enough time to work towards unity," he said.

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