Mbahzima Shilowa. Picture: Mujahid Safodien

Cape Town - Long-standing tensions flared again on Monday when Cope acting general secretary Lyndall Shope-Mafole accused expelled party deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa of being in contempt of court for addressing supporters over the weekend.

Shilowa reportedly addressed a provincial “party summit” of more than 1 000 Cope supporters in the Eastern Cape, among other things pouring cold water over rumours of a merger between opposition parties.

But Shope-Mafole dismissed Shilowa’s actions as nothing more than an attempt to weaken the embattled party in the run-up to the 2014 national and provincial elections.

She said he was in contempt of court as he had been interdicted from participating in any party activities after his expulsion two years ago.

But Shilowa rejected the accusations, saying he spoke only at the invitation of provincial organisers, and had been interdicted only against calling himself the president, leader or member of the divided party - not against addressing Cope members.

“They (Cope leaders) will be free to raise it in court,” but the speech was delivered by invitation, Shilowa said on Monday.

“I have to be able to express what Cope is about.”

Shilowa is to appear at a court hearing on February 1, where he must respond to several charges, including the urgent interim interdict obtained against him by Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota.

Shilowa said it was unfortunate that Lekota preferred to settle the leadership dispute facing the party in the courts, instead of by means of “internal democracy”.

Political Bureau