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Patrick Sikhutshi at the opening of the Limpopo Legislature earlier this year.

Trouble in Cope ranks as leader is suspended

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The investigation into alleged misappropriation of finances against Congress of the People (Cope) Provincial Chairperson and Legislature member Patrick Sikhutshi is expected to be finalised within the next month, following his recent suspension and Sunday’s court ruling allowing the Congress National Committee (CNC) to formally announce the move.
According to Cope Provincial Secretary Erick Mohlapamaswi the suspension followed Sikhutshi failing to adhere to requests to account for money spent before and during last August’s local government elections and bringing the party into disrepute. According to Mohlapamaswi alleged irregularities involving more than R100 000 were unearthed in bank statements during a preliminary investigation conducted by the party in the province.
He said Sikhutshi would have to account on a number of issues that arose after the elections when questions were posed about how money given to Cope in the province by the Limpopo Legislature at the time had been spent.
He stressed that the CNC had decided that the investigation had to be concluded within a month and added that there was no time to waste. The date for the disciplinary hearing had not been communicated as yet, he said.
Mohlapamaswi assured that all was well within the party in Limpopo with the exception of those aggrieved about the suspension of the provincial chairperson, adding that they had to acquaint themselves with the internal processes. “When it comes to issues of accountability the party comes first.”
In the interim Cope Deputy Provincial Chairperson Makgwana Rampedi is acting in the leadership position while Congress Provincial Committee (CPC) member Sello Mokoele is acting as Deputy Chairperson following Sunday’s meeting of the CNC with local structures, it was learnt.
In an earlier media release Cope announced that Sikhutshi had been suspended with immediate effect pending further investigations into alleged misappropriation of finances and bringing the name of the party into disrepute.
By then the Congress Executive Committee (CEC) was still due to meet with its provincial and regional structures to formally announce the decision and to discuss the further strengthening of its structures in the province.
In welcoming the order of the Polokwa­ne High Court in the matter brought by Sikhutshi to interdict the planned meeting to report back to its structures in Limpopo and to uplift his suspension the party said in a follow-up statement that it has always been their contention that the application was frivolous, malicious and a waste of the court’s time and money.
“The decision by the Congress National Committee to suspend the Provincial Chairperson, institute further investigations into financial impropriety and disciplinary processes is already common course (sic) and is in the process of implementation. We expect him to simply subject himself to the Code of Conduct of the party and to stop useless delaying tactics,” it was stated.
“We are consolidating the political work we’ve been doing to be in a better position to win this province in the 2019 elections. We believe that this goal is now within reach given the vulnerability of the ruling party as a result of corruption, mismanagement and the betrayal of the people of the province.”
It was stressed that Cope would not tolerate unethical conduct within its ranks and would deal firmly with those who violated its values and principles. “We want leaders who are honest and selfless to service our members and the people of the country. The nation bears daily testimony to how unethical and dishonest leadership can destroy a country and its economy.”
The statement was concluded with the statement that they “uncompromisingly remain accountable, reliable and incorruptible”.
Sikhutshi did not respond to calls made to his cell phone at the time of going to press.

Story: YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com