This statue of Lucas Mangope is all that remains after his fall from power, while a new man, inset, Sipho Mfundisi leads the UCDP. Picture: Supplied
Deposed United Christian Democratic Party leader Lucas Mangope has suffered a political blow in the North West High Court which was dismissed and cost him his application to have the leadership of the party charged with contempt of court.
The application was his lifeline to regain control of the party after he lost out to the Sipho Mfundisi-led executive that was elected at the in 2011.
The imposing brass statue of former strongman at the party headquarters in Mahikeng, will remain as the only permanent feature of a man whose long-running political career seems to be ending unceremoniously.
The UCDP elected a new leadership after a huge fallout with Mangope. The new leadership decided to expel him but that was reversed by a court ruling.
However, that only restored the former leader’s party membership, not his previous position as leader.
Mangope lodged the latest application against the party, Mfundisi and another party official, Pemla Motsuenyane, after he was barred from the party’s offices earlier this year.
Together with his supporters, Mangope had sought to regain control of the party.
In her ruling, acting judge Tebogo Djaje said that Mangope had never contested the leadership of Mfundisi and his fight had been about getting his membership restored and not his leadership of the UCDP.
“The applicant’s contention and argument that the respondents refused to allow him access to the offices of the first respondent (UCDP) as a leader cannot, therefore, be sustained. Consequently, I am not persuaded to find that the respondents are in contempt of the court order dated May 17, 2012,” Djaje said
She ordered that Mangope also pay the costs of the application, which caused celebration in the Mfundisi- led executive.
Party spokesperson Estelle Green said they were relieved at the outcome.
“The UCDP has never denied or tried to erase the role Mangope played in his time as leader. We respected a previous ruling that was in his favour granting him membership.
“We even extended an olive branch to Mangope but all to no avail. The court has confirmed what we have been saying all along that Kgosi Mangope is a member of and not the leader of the UCDP,” Green said.
She said that Sipho Mfundisi is the elected leader and the rank and file of the party would rally behind him.
“The current leader will lead the UCDP’s quest to regain its position on the political radar. We will continue to stand up and speak out, guarding democracy from tyrants who are in politics for themselves and not for the people,” Green said.
Efforts to get comment from Mangope were unsuccessful.