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News24.com | Fact or faction? In U-turn, Cope insists Joburg councillor Colleen Makhubele ‘is not suspended’

News24.com | Fact or faction? In U-turn, Cope insists Joburg councillor Colleen Makhubele ‘is not suspended’

Cope Johannesburg representative and chair of chairs, Colleen Makhubele.

Cope Johannesburg representative and chair of chairs, Colleen Makhubele.

PHOTO: Luba Lesolle/Gallo Images

  • Cope’s leadership says its Johannesburg region representative and chair of chairs, Colleen Makhubele, has not been suspended.
  • This, after Mxolisi Ntobela confirmed the suspension.
  • The party says the structure that suspended her is an illegitimate and parallel one.

As divisions within Cope’s leadership widen, the party’s Johannesburg leadership has released a statement to say its representative and chair of chairs, Colleen Makhubele, hasn’t been suspended – hours after a claim that she had been.

It was alleged that Makhubele had been suspended after voting in a motion of no confidence in council speaker Vasco da Gama last month.

On Monday night, purportedly in his capacity as the provincial interim committee (PIC) coordinator, Mxolisi Ntobela confirmed the suspension.

But on Tuesday, the contrary was revealed in a statement that the party’s Johannesburg leadership released.

The statement dismissed reports of her suspension by an “illegitimate, unconstitutional and parallel interim provincial structure established by [party spokesperson] Dennis Bloem”. 

READ | Joburg’s Colleen Makhubele: We have DA and ActionSA support, coalition in for a surprise

In August, Bloem, deputy president Willie Madisha and the party’s secretary for elections, Mzwandile Hleko, said Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota had been suspended for sowing divisions.

Soon after, national chairperson Teboho Loate stated that the three had been suspended.

However, Bloem claims he has not received a letter of suspension and has been acting as party spokesperson for the party since.

In Tuesday’s letter in the latest matter, Cope’s Johannesburg region asserted that the suspension letter that Mxolisi Ntobela wrote was the result of alleged pressure on Bloem and other minority party leaders from the DA-led multi-party coalition to remove all councillors who voted in favour of Da Gama’s removal.

“This action also serves as part of a smear campaign on our councillor and party representative by those who are trying hard to cause confusion within Cope and to tarnish her name.”

It said Cope was a party that prided itself in “speaking truth to power” and in “defending the Constitution of this country”.

“Cllr Makhubele is a leader who respects and upholds the constitution of her party and her oath of office. The Joburg region, together with Cllr Makhubele, are currently taking legal counsel and, in consultation with the provincial and national structure, will be taking legal steps against those who are trying hard to defame her name and character for their own personal gains and to win points with the DA multi-party coalition at the expense of her name and that of Cope.”

The letter continued: 

We would like to put it on record that Cllr Makhubele is not suspended and that she is continuing to serve the residents of the City of Johannesburg as the chair of chairs of the City and also as a Cope councillor.

Meanwhile, Makhubele has shared a scathing letter the Johannesburg branch wrote to Ntobela, which states that he is “purporting to act” as PIC coordinator and a member of the Cope Gauteng PIC.

“As Cope – City of Johannesburg region, we would like to record and re­iterate unequivocally that the ‘Gauteng Provincial Interim Committee’ is a parallel structure formed without proper and, or any regard to the party’s constitution, by members clearly not authorised to do so.

“It is a body that is, in law and in fact, a non-entity within the party. Consequently, such a body has no decision-making powers of whatsoever nature.

READ | Cope suspends Joburg councillor Colleen Makhubele for voting to oust speaker

“You have no authority whatsoever to act in any capacity on behalf of our party Cope. It has also been brought to our attention that you are still a member of the African Independent Congress (AIC), another political party, and are consequently disqualified from being a member of Cope.”

The letter requested Ntobela to provide written proof of his resignation as a member of the AIC.

“We demand, therefore, from you, as we hereby do, that you will forthwith desist from representing the party in any forum, manner, or form and that you retract the letter of purported suspension of Cllr Colleen Makhubele.”

News24 was unable to get hold of Ntobela at the time of publication, despite several attempts.


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