COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: SOWETAN
COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: SOWETAN

COPE has rallied behind its embattled president Mosiuoa Lekota after allegations surfaced that a faction within the party wants to oust him as leader. 

The faction was apparently not happy with COPE’s showing in the May 8 vote in which it received 0.27%, translating to two seats in parliament, down from the 0.67% it received in the 2014 elections, and three seats.

The party, which splintered from the ANC, received more than  1.3-million votes or 7.42% of the national vote when it first contested elections in 2009. However, it lost a large portion of its  supporters due to a bruising leadership battle between Lekota and his former deputy, Mbhazima Shilowa.

On Tuesday, EWN reported on plans by some of COPE’s party’s leaders to stop Lekota from returning to parliament by tabling a motion of no confidence in him when the party’s national executive committee meets.

However, Lekota told Business Day he did not know about this, saying if such plans to remove him actually exist, COPE general secretary Papi Kganare would have notified him. “I have nothing to tell you about this,” he said. 

Lekota came under fire last year when he joined forces with minority lobby group AfriForum against the plan to amend the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. This issue was said to be one of the factors in COPE’s leaders’ alleged decision to remove Lekota.

“You are not going to interrogate me about that,” charged Lekota, when asked about it by Business Day.

Kganare said the rumours about Lekota were unfounded and that COPE leaders have not explicitly stated they do not want Lekota to return to Parliament. “He is going to parliament, there are no two ways about it. In fact, we are having a meeting next week where we are going to do a post-mortem of the elections and develop a way forward.”

Kganare said the AfriForum issue was an old and tired matter, and questioned why it was now being raised again. “Yes, he went to AfriForum without the approval of our structures but he apologised because we don’t agree with what AfriForum stands for.”