PLANS are at an advanced stage for COPE members aligned to Mbhazima Shilowa to be absorbed into the Bantu Holomisa-led United Democratic Movement (UDM) for the upcoming national elections.
The Daily Dispatch learnt this week that next Saturday all Shilowa-aligned branches will hold a summit in Bloemfontein to finalise the protracted absorption.
Sources close to the discussions told the Daily Dispatch that talks between the two parties had been ongoing since 2010.
“The talks were based on discussions on how we can form a united opposition with clear goals,” the source said.
“Last week we also attended the UDM’s election manifesto launch,” he said.
Holomisa yesterday refused to comment when contacted yesterday by the Dispatch. “I cannot comment on this until the Saturday summit. So call me afterwards,” he said.
The branches are expected to come from all provinces including the Eastern Cape.
The UDM on Saturday launched its election manifesto at Nasrec Centre near Soweto, where Holomisa received an enthusiastic welcome.
COPE is entangled in a protracted legal battle between Shilowa and Mosioua Lekota.
Last month the Lekota-aligned COPE was granted relief by the North Gauteng High Court‚ allowing the party to hold its first national congress in Boksburg.
Lekota was elected president of the party with no one standing against him at the three-day meeting.
However, Lekota’s detractors in the Eastern Cape secured an interdict against the provincial congress‚ calling for Mbulelo Ntenjwa to defend the Eastern Cape meeting in which he is said to have been elected provincial chair.
The Eastern Cape meeting is still in dispute between Lekota’s supporters in the party and a faction close to co-founder and Lekota’s political rival Shilowa.
On January 21, Ntenjwa was called by the East London Circuit Local Division to show cause why the party’s provincial congress should not be nullified.
Three COPE MPLs aligned to Shilowa – Sam Kwelita, Nomfundo Jamjam and John Korkie – have until today to renew their membership or face the axe from the party and the Bhisho legislature.
Archie Ralo, who maintains he is still the provincial secretary of COPE in the Eastern Cape, told the Dispatch that the summit of branches has not yet been confirmed. — firstname.lastname@example.org