Cope leadership battle goes to the courts

20100529  Cope's deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa, president Mosiuoa Lekota at Cope's congress at the Saint Georges Hotel in Centurion where the National Congress is being held to elect the new Cope president. Lekota arrived 5 hours late and tension was visible between the two leaders.  PIC: BAFANA MAHLANGU. 29/05/2010. © SOWETAN
20100529 Cope's deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa, president Mosiuoa Lekota at Cope's congress at the Saint Georges Hotel in Centurion where the National Congress is being held to elect the new Cope president. Lekota arrived 5 hours late and tension was visible between the two leaders. PIC: BAFANA MAHLANGU. 29/05/2010. © SOWETAN

THE leadership battle in the Congress of the People has moved from the corridors of the party's office in BraamPark, Johannesburg, to the courts.

Yesterday Cope's beleaguered president, Mosiuoa Lekota, lodged an application in the Johannesburg high court to reverse the motion of no confidence passed against him at the party's conference at the weekend.

Lekota's aide told Sowetan the application was filed after the camp supporting his rival, Mbhazima Shilowa, handed him a letter informing him of his suspension. Shilowa was appointed by the conference as acting president.

The Shilowa camp also filed an application yesterday to challenge a court interdict on Saturday ruling that the party should hold its leadership election only in September.

Lekota lodged the interdict after delegates at the conference overruled a decision by the party's congress national committee that the gathering should deal only with policy and not elect new leadership.

The committee's position was arrived at as a compromise after a Lekota-supporting faction went to court trying to stop the conference from taking place. They argued that the party was not ready for an elective conference.

After delegates overturned the decision and demanded that the conference elect a new leadership, Lekota staged a walkout and obtained a court interdict preventing the conference from tampering with the leadership.

The conference passed a vote of no confidence and elected Shilowa as acting president. Despite the vote Lekota went to his office on Monday and checked his e-mails before meeting his lawyers.

Later in the day he received the letter about the decision of the conference and was given 48 hours to vacate his office.

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