- 14 constituencies say they have no confidence in the Moleleki-led national executive
Nat Molomo/ ’Marafaele Mohloboli
DEPUTY Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) has once again been rocked by serious infighting amid revelations by party spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, that 14 constituency committees have passed no confidence votes on the national executive committee (NEC) over its failure to expel secretary general, Mahali Phamotse.
Mr Litjobo said the constituency committees feel that Dr Phamotse should have been expelled after she was recently charged with corruption for allegedly influencing the awarding of a 2015 high schools textbooks tender to Epic Printers and Molumeli Pty (Ltd).
Chief Magistrate ‘Matankiso Nthunya heard the case last month and immediately released Dr Phamotse on free bail, saying she believed the minister would not abscond but would stand trial to finality. Chief Magistrate Nthunya then postponed the case to 21 February 2020. At the time of the alleged offence, Dr Phamotse, who is now the AD secretary general, was Education and Training Minister and a member of then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC).
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Mr Litjobo said 14 AD constituency committees were not happy with the party’s NEC over its failure to expel Dr Phamotse over the alleged corruption which allegedly occurred a year before the party was formed.
The aggrieved constituencies are Tsikoane #14, Peka #17, Kolonyama #18, Teyateyaneng #24, Thetsane #33, Qoaling #34, Koro-Koro #42, Qeme #43, Rothe #44, Matsieng #45, Likhoele #53, Mekaling #59, Mpharane #61 and Mashai #76.
“In some of the letters, the members complain about the failure by the executive to reprimand one of the controversial members Mr Joseph Ntakha, who for the longest time, has brought the party into disrepute,” said Mr Litjobo.
“Some complain that since Dr Phamotse has been accused of corruption she ought to have been fired from the party and her ministerial post. They also complain that some clauses of the party constitution were breached when issuing a circular to invite members for the youth league conference (slated for 28 February 2020).
“Given the way these letters are couched and the myriad reasons raised in them, this could just be an extension of the infighting that’s been brewing within the party since its inception in 2017.”
The AD is the second biggest in the four-party coalition which also features Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP) and Labour and Employment Minister Keketso Rantšo’s Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
The AD has had its share of infighting and Mr Litjobo and Dr Phamotse, who is also the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, appear to have had a cold war from the run-up to and the subsequent AD elective conference which was held in March 2018.
The duo had been billed to fight it out for the secretary general’s post along with former secretary general, Mokhele Moletsane, but Mr Litjobo withdrew at the eleventh hour after a directive from Mr Moleleki.
While accepting that all three were suitable for the post, Mr Moleleki directed them to withdraw from the contest, saying the election of any one of them would however, cause divisions among their supporters which could weaken the party.
Mr Litjobo heeded Mr Moleleki’s directive and withdrew from the race leaving Dr Phamotse and Mr Moletsane to slug it out for the post that was eventually won by Dr Phamotse.
However, tensions persisted between the two and in September 2018, youths said to be loyal to Mr Litjobo set fire to AD property in Maseru in a violent demonstration against Dr Phamotse.
The destroyed property included a machine used to produce membership cards, a computer, two doors, sofas, eight plastic chairs and table cloths.
The mob accused Dr Phamotse of fanning factionalism and other offences which have allegedly brought the party into disrepute. The party youths alleged that Dr Phamotse was behind the formation of a faction calling itself Babochabela (those who come from the Northern region).
They further accused Dr Phamotse of firing two AD members from her ministry and replacing them with a member of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC) party which is now in the opposition. The AD is a splinter party from the DC.
Last April, Mr Litjobo took to radio to accuse Dr Phamotse of working against the AD leader (Mr Moleleki) and bringing the party into disrepute. Although Mr Litjobo did not mention her by name, his remarks were a clear reference to Dr Phamotse whom he referred to as a “former minister of justice and education”. She had previously served in both portfolios and is currently the Gender minister.
Meanwhile, a member of the AD has petitioned the High Court to stop the party from holding its elective youth league conference on 28 February 2020.
The applicant, Francis Ramosetle, wants the elective conference barred on the grounds that the party is also planning elective conferences for every district which are not provided for in the constitution of the party.
The AD, the AD’s NEC and 36 AD members are the respondents in the lawsuit which was filed on 9 February 2020.
“It (executive committee) has introduced the structure of district conference not provided for in the constitution. It has directed that delegates for the district conference should only be three per constituency, for example, the constituency youth person, secretary and treasurer,” Mr Ramosetle states in his court papers.
Among other things, Mr Ramosetle wants the court to order that the nomination process for the prospective candidates for the elective conference for youth league executive committee of the AD “be reviewed, corrected and set aside and fresh nominations be done afresh in terms of the party’s constitution”.