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JJ Tabane must bring evidence and not rely on hearsay, says Mbhazima Shilowa

Former Congress of the People (COPE) leader, Mbhazima Shilowa.Image: Melinda Stuurman

Former Congress of the People (COPE) leader, Mbhazima Shilowa.Image: Melinda Stuurman

Published May 12, 2022

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By: Siyabonga Sithole

The ANC is yet to comment on the recent allegations levelled against some if its current and former leaders, who are alleged to have played key roles in the formation of the Congress of the People (COPE).

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These allegations about Trevor Manuel, Tito Mboweni, current finance minister, Enoch Godongwana and former president Thabo Mbeki are not new, and were recently laid bare by former Cope communications director and media personality, Dr JJ Tabane.

This week, The Star also revealed that a concerned ANC NEC member, Lindiwe Sisulu, wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to “seriously“ look into this particular matter.

On Tuesday, former deputy president of COPE Mbhazima Shilowa addressed social media users after journalist Lukhona Mnguni raised the issue once more. Shilowa said the “revelations” by Tabane were nothing but hearsay, which people should not pay attention to, as they were based on people who said they got information from other people. He also suggested those interested in the matter refer to the Hefer Commission report.

Refusing to comment further, Shilowa sent out an old media statement on the issue. The Star reached out to Shilowa, who said he did not have anything else to say about the matter.

“I witnessed Bulelani’s [Ngcuka] name being dragged in the mud by people who, when called upon, could not produce evidence. The one had heard from another, who heard from another person, is what is referred to as hearsay. I hope we are not dealing with the same thing here. It is a weird notion that he who is accused must prove, and that there silence was proof enough,” Shilowa said via his Twitter account.

In a series of interviews, Tabane, who worked as COPE's communication director and political adviser at the height of the party's formation, is quoted as being adamant that leaders such as Manuel, Mbeki, Godongwana and Motlanthe were at the centre of the party’s successful formation, having attended clandestine meetings to further this end. This assertion was denied by the party, through its spokesperson Dennis Bloem, who said the allegations were nothing but malicious.

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“We want to put it on record that the allegations that former President Thabo Mbeki was a member or adviser of COPE, are nothing but malice. Those allegations are far from the truth. President Mbeki was never a member or adviser of COPE,” the statement reads.

The party further stated that neither were former finance ministers Mboweni and Manuel, nor current Finance Minister Godongwana, ever involved in the formation of the party.

The statement, however, concedes that Mbeki’s mother, Apainette Mbeki, was a proud, card-carrying COPE member, and this was known by the media.

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The party says it encourages people making these allegations to come to the fore with proof of their allegations.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said he would revert shortly, but had not done so at the time of going to print.

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