Dexter blasts Cope

Cope official believes embattled party must either close shop, or re-launch

JUST days after the elections, Cope is rocked by another looming leadership spat - this time between its leader Mosiuoa Lekota and his right-hand man, Phillip Dexter.

Dexter is the party's communications chief.

In a 19-page document titled "Coping with the crisis in the Congress of the People: Our responsibility in the National Democratic Revolution", Dexter claims the party is marred by racism and misappropriation of funds.

He also decries the fact that the party has not lived up to its promise of being an alternative to the ANC.

Dexter also alleges that Cope election lists were manipulated in 2009 and this year.

"Currently, there are mayoral and councillor candidates who are not only inappropriate, but no member of the party can tell anyone how they were selected and by whom," Dexter writes.

"Funds in the party are not managed well and are routinely abused.

"While those excesses in Parliament were investigated ... little to nothing has ever been done about the abuse of funds at provincial level and in the party HQ," he writes.

Dexter also accuses the party leadership of abusing staff members.

"Cope has its own Auroras, where staff are not paid yet those in political office have their expenses paid, stay in expensive hotels and generally use resources as if they are their own personal ones."

Dexter is also against the party's current discussion with the DA about coalitions.

He accuses the DA of reinforcing patterns of under-development inherited from the apartheid era.

"It also claims clean governance but has been involved in several corruption scandals," Dexter says.

But a Cope insider says a coalition with the DA in several municipalities is already a "fait accompli".

Sowetan has also been informed that Cope leaders from party headquarters have flown to Cape Town for meetings with Helen Zille today.

Dexter also called for Cope to close shop, or re-launch.

Lekota said he did not see the document as an indication that Dexter wanted to be party president, but added that nobody in Cope would be prevented from contesting elections.

He refused to comment on Dexter's allegations that party lists were fraudulently, and that COPE headquarters had also "abused" funds.

"It is our view that we continue, bound by the task to deepen democracy. Where we have an opportunity to participate in government, we will participate in coalitions by joining other opposition parties" Lekota said.

Mbhazima Shilowa's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said there was nothing new about the document.

"They used the same issues to get rid of Shilowa in the race for the presidency, now Dexter is using the same arguments to launch his campaign against Lekota."