‘We have long tried to extend an olive branch’: Makhubele on Madisha’s COPE expulsion

Sisanda Mbolekwa Politics reporter
COPE Gauteng leaders at a media briefing held in Johannesburg.
COPE Gauteng leaders at a media briefing held in Johannesburg.
Image: Supplied

Joburg speaker and COPE's Gauteng Electoral Commission correspondent Colleen Makhubele says the party remains unshaken in its decision to expel the party's former deputy president Willie Madisha.

Madisha was ousted from the party on Sunday after factional wars among its top brass.

In the latest instalment of the party's persistent drama, Makhubele criticised the “immature and ill-disciplined clamouring for media attention and unbecoming defiant behaviour”, saying it has vindicated party leader Mosiuoa Lekota's decision to oust his former second-in-command.

“What gives us comfort is that the events that followed after the termination letters, the unfortunate utterances, threats and attacks, the validity of our leader’s decision to be correct was affirmed once again. It was the right decision to take,” she said.

Makhubele said the decision to axe Madisha and secretary of elections Mzwandile Nhleko took months of internal deliberations and extensions of olive branches to facilitate mediation and reconciliation.

“The process undertaken from August 2022 was part of the internal mediation process, which is something inherent to the democratic process and embedded in our constitution that we uphold, including defending the right to resort to the justice system,” she said.

Makhubele revealed warning shots were fired during that period in the form of the suspensions of Madisha, Nhleko and party spokesperson Dennis Bloem. However, she said this process was met with complete disregard. Instead, the “defiant cabal” fired back by “unlawfully” suspending the president.

Makhubele also alleged young men were mobilised to physically attack the president at a media briefing.

Despite the turf war, Makhubele said patience was exercised when dealing with the embattled trio.

“It was a tough decision to make. In this period many factors were considered and weighed, including the fact that years of comradeship underpinned by a bond of brotherhood and friendship had developed,” she said.

Makhubele said the party's national committee realised the mediation process was exhausted and other means of reaching out had become a futile exercise.

“Time and time again, efforts were met with rejection and disregard on the part of the expelled COPE leaders. They regrettably continued with even more fierce determination on their set slippery path of defiance of the party, its structures and constitution.”

It was regrettable the trio embarked on what was paramount to a coup in a “self-centred, forceful and violent manner”, she said.

“When one hopeful leader who has ambitions to be president realises the constitutional process may not work in his favour, decides to form a cabal of parallel structures and unilaterally decides on their own conferences and dates using party funds unlawfully and illegally, as described on the charges, these actions agitated all structures of the party across the nation and this escalation must be interrupted and stopped with immediate effect.”

Madisha and Nhleko were the first to be booted out, but Bloem has been spared from this round of ousting as he has reportedly requested a time extension to make his representations on why he shouldn't be expelled from the party.

Lekota's days in the party were numbered, she said, adding that he has run his course and seeks to retire. “He has served as president of the party for two terms. Constitutionally he cannot serve another term. He is willing and ready to hand over the reins in a constitutional process that elects new leaders.”

The party said announcements would be made in due course when the party will convene and elect new leadership ahead of the 2024 national elections.


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.