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An application by a faction of Cope aligned to Mbhazima Shilowa to stop further disciplinary hearings pending the outcome of a legal battle over party leadership, was struck off the roll by the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled that the application by five of the Congress of the People's leaders in Gauteng and Limpopo was not urgent.
Caucus leader Ndzipho Kalipa, whip Moses Mayekiso and Clara Sodlulashe-Motau, of the Gauteng legislature, and Solly Mokhatshoa and Mabule Motubatse of the Limpopo legislature, sought an order to suspend disciplinary action against Cope members.
This was pending the outcome of a legal battle over leadership between ousted party leader Shilowa and Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota.
In February last year, Lekota obtained an interim court order recognising him as president of the party and restraining Shilowa from claiming the title of party leader.
The legal battle is set to continue in February in the High Court in Johannesburg.
The five also wanted the court put a stop to steps aimed at ousting Shilowa supporters from the party and the provincial legislatures.
The three Gauteng Cope leaders face possible disciplinary hearing after being accused of unlawfully opening a constituency fund bank account, into which millions of rands was transferred by the provincial legislature.
No date has been set for the hearings and all three remain members of the Gauteng legislature.
The two Limpopo leaders were expelled from the party after refusing to attend disciplinary hearings in April.
They face possible expulsion from the Limpopo legislature as they no longer belong to a political party, but have so far not taken any steps to challenge the decision to expel them.
The five have questioned the legitimacy of the Cope disciplinary structures and Lekota's conduct against them.
Kalipa accused Lekota of targeting specific leaders and trying to get rid of Shilowa's supporters.
Tolmay said the applicants might feel aggrieved about the way in which they had been treated, but she could not see what that had to do with the leadership struggle.
Lekota opposed the application, saying it was not urgent. Cope would become ungovernable if the party could not discipline its members, he said.
Johan van den Berg, representing the five, argued that the matter was gravely urgent as the provincial legislatures resume their duties next week.
He argued that Lekota had no mandate to defend the application or to order disciplinary steps against them, which in itself made it urgent.
Phillips Daniels SC, appearing for Cope and Lekota, argued that the disciplinary hearings could “by no figment of the imagination” be related to a leadership dispute.
“It relates to the abuse of power to open bank accounts on fraudulent documents involving millions of rands.
“That's the charges against Kalipa and his cohorts, and that's what they will be charged with.
“... It's nonsense that it's a faction fight. It's a red herring.
“People have been caught with their fingers in the till and there's an inquiry that's going to take place.
“If there's a disciplinary hearing and they are dismissed, they have a right to appeal,” he argued. - Sapa