Troubled cope owes lodge close to R1m

BELEAGUERED Cope is facing a hotel bill of close to R1million that it has failed to settle a month after its last aborted conference in Centurion.

BELEAGUERED Cope is facing a hotel bill of close to R1million that it has failed to settle a month after its last aborted conference in Centurion.

City Lodge offered 447 delegates accommodation for two days during the conference last month, which could not conclude its business because of infighting.

Sowetan is in possession of a letter of demand from the hotel addressed to Cope's deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa, demanding a total of R838090,12.

"As per your letter of May 28 2010 whereby you confirmed that 50percent deposit required for the booking be paid prior to arrival of the Cope members in our hotels and the balance to be paid by June 7 2010 - this has not happened.

"Our invoice reflects the total outstanding balance of R838090,12 for the delegates' accommodation for the Cope Congress."

City Lodge Hotels chief executive officer Clifford Ross confirmed the party's unpaid bill to the hotel yesterday.

"I can confirm that a large sum of money is owed to the City Lodge Hotels group by Cope following their recent conference in Johannesburg and that we are currently in discussions with the organisation to have the outstanding amount settled in full," he said.

A senior member of the party aligned to Shilowa denied claims that Shilowa owes the money in his personal capacity.

"He negotiated with the hotel on behalf of the party. Shilowa was just a liaison person, Cope has debtors and creditors like any other organisation.

"The matter will be sorted in time.

"We are in a sound financial position and any perceived financial difficulty is only in the minds of our detractors," the member said.

Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said the party would take a decision during its meeting today.

"We will most probably settle the bill, but people who took it upon themselves to make the booking without getting a mandate from the party must account," Dexter said.

Meanwhile, Shilowa's office in Parliament yesterday released a statement denying that Parliament had frozen the party's funding.

"The office of the chief whip in Parliament, as well as the office of the leader of Cope in Parliament, have not received any correspondence relating to the 'so-called' freezing of funds.

"Such purported freezing is supposed to have been occasioned by a letter from Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota."

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