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Cope: Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Congress of the People president, on the letter released by the party general secretary (22/05/2010)

22nd May 2010

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I am compelled as the President of the Congress of the People to respond to the "Letter to Party Faithful" released by the General Secretary Charlotte Lobe, which rather long missive threatens the suspension of myself and the Head of Policy Mr. Smuts Ngonyama.

The origin of Ms Lobe's attack seems to be that in the meeting of the CNC it was" unanimously agreed that the May Congress should go ahead, and that my calling for a postponement is therefore spurious. "
The minutes of that meeting will reflect there were vigorous objections to the proposed Congress. Feelings ran high against the Congress, let there be no doubt.
To declare that the "decision was unanimous" is indeed disingenuous. An immediate consequence of the high-handed decision was the pullout of Free State the very next day, and subsequently, two more provinces.
In that came Congress National Committee (CNC) meeting, late on Saturday afternoon, towards the tail end of our gathering, it was brought to our attention that of the estimated 2000 odd branches, as many as half have been "disqualified."
What this means is effectively half of the 1.3m COPE voters are being eliminated in matters of policy and leadership. The Congress of the People becomes a Congress of the Few.
This is not a complicated issue. I have said it before, I will say it again: We, Shilowa, myself, Lobe, Dandala are caretaker-leaders, until such times as we can say, with integrity, we were democratically elected. A true democratic process has never been implemented until now, we as a party were simply too young. This national Congress was meant to put this matter to rights.
However, in order to have this Congress be legitimate, democracy has to start out there, at the branches, work its way up to the eventual leadership. If the branch audit process is flawed or biased, then essentially everything thereafter is flawed! We should not be having a Congress to "save face.." or because we, as Leaders, are too proud to admit we are not prepared. What purpose does that serve?
As the President of COPE, my legacy to the party must be one of a legitimate Congress. The leaders, would have liked to have proceeded with a Congress - but it must not be at the expense of more than half our supporters! We need to get our ducks in a row, and then only can we can proceed. Procedurally, we have until December to do prepare.
There is one other matter which makes it common sense to call for a postponement.
The CNC was unable to pass the budget. The coffers are sorely depleted. The Treasurer Ms Ndudi said she would try by all means to facilitate the funding for the conference, and present her recommendations to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday 24th May. Procedurally it has to be approved on the 27th May, the day the conference is scheduled to start.
Everything points to a common-sense option of postponing until properly prepared.
With our audit procedure in arrears and the threat of a funds freeze as a result thereof, where will we "find" the money? It is this cavalier disregard to expenditures that has caused a great rift within the leadership, and indeed, will continue to cause a rift for as long as I am President. In answer to the threat of suspension, let me say I shall be watching with keen interest to see on exactly what basis such a move will be made. COPE CNC members will find it no easy matter to simply purge themselves of those who speak out.

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