Lekota staying out of Parliament

By Political Bureau

COPE President Mosiuoa Lekota will not be taking a seat in the National Assembly when Parliament has its first sitting on Wednesday.

Independent Newspapers has learnt that the party's congress national committee - its second highest decision-making body - has decided that Lekota be based at party headquarters in Johannesburg.

Sources at the meeting said the committee wanted Lekota to work together with secretary-general Charlotte Lobe to strengthen party structures and consolidate its electoral gains.

This means the party will be led in Parliament by presidential candidate Mvume Dandala, with former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa at his side.

Confusion reigned over Lekota's future role after reports surfaced indicating that the former defence minister was interested in taking up one of Cope's 30 seats in Parliament.

Lekota had earlier denied rumours that he was interested in taking up the parliamentary seat, but it is believed that those close to him have been arguing that his vast experience would be needed in the national legislature as Cope is sending a team consisting mainly of people who have never been in Parliament.

But Lekota, who has served as an MP, a minister and chairman of the National Council of Provinces, has insisted that he has reached a glass ceiling in as far as public office is concerned.

By late on Monday evening, the committee was still locked in deliberations as it prepared to deploy its first ever MPs to opposition benches.

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