‘Cope divided into wise people and fools,’ says Makhubele on Madisha’s exit and Lekota possibly stepping down
Cope's Colleen Makhubele says attempts at mediation and reconciliation were rebuffed.
Former Congress of the People (Cope) deputy president Willie Madisha. Picture: Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla
City of Johannesburg speaker and Congress of the People (Cope) member Colleen Makhubele has heavily criticised the party’s former deputy president Willie Madisha for his “defiant” antics and attempts to embark on what she said was a coup.
Cope terminated the membership of Madisha and its secretary for elections, Mzwandile Hleko, following the party’s national committee meeting on Sunday.
According to the party, Madisha and Hleko’s “unauthorised actions” – including convening unconstitutional meetings and conferences, abusing party resources, among other things – played a part in the decision to axe both members.
Cope has long been wracked by factional battles between Madisha and party president Mosiuoa Lekota.
Tensions reached a boiling point in August last year when the pair publicly announced each other’s suspension from the party.
Madisha at the time suggested that Lekota lacked the strength to lead the party because of his ill-health.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, Makhubele said the decision on Madisha and Hleko 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 insisted that “there is only one Cope“, saying Madisha’s attempts to get rid of Lekota had “failed miserably”.
“One would imagine that if indeed you have the gift and ability to mobilise in that manner and gather support, the logical way would be for that person to voluntarily step down and start their own party instead of embarking on what is paramount to a coup d’état.
“These were self-centred, forceful and violent actions to take over the presidency of the Congress of the People in an untimely manner by all means and costs even if it means breaking the party to the ground. These actions have agitated all structures of the party across the nation and this escalation had to be interrupted and stopped with immediate effect,” she said.
She also lamented the factional battles within Cope.
“Our party is only divided into wise, competent people and fools who seek to destroy our party. These fools are further dividing themselves into their own factions which will not be tolerated,” Makhubele continued.
The Joburg speaker indicated that a decision on Cope spokesperson Denis Bloem’s fate was yet to be finalised as he has reportedly requested more time to state why he shouldn’t be expelled from the party.
Lekota leaving Cope?
Makhubele further hinted at Lekota potentially stepping down.
“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,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cope Gauteng chairperson Tom Mofokeng said the party was yet to finalise dates for its national and provincial congress.
“We, as Gauteng, have requested the national structures to give out the dates of our congresses,” Mofokeng said.