THE internal election season for the country’s political parties continues this week with the opposition Movement for Economic Change (MEC) holding its first ever elective conference from 3 to 5 May.
MEC was formed in January 2017 after then then secretary general of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Selibe Mochoboroane, jumped ship after falling out with the LCD leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, and the rest of the LCD’s national executive committee (NEC).
Mr Mochoboroane went on to win the Thabana Morena constituency seat during the 3 June 2017 snap national elections and the MEC garnered another five seats through the proportional representation system to bring the party’s total to six seats in the national assembly.
The 3-5 May conference will be the MEC’s first ever internal election after it contested the 2017 national elections with an interim leadership.
Although the leader’s position is up for grabs this week, no one has expressed an intention to challenge the incumbent Mr Mochoboroane and this means that he will retain his position unopposed.
The current deputy leader, ’Mantšiuoa Mosothoane, will have to brush off the challenges posed by non-constituency legislator, Tšepang ’Matlhohonolofatso Mosena, and ’Malipolelo Boutu, who was the party’s losing candidate for the Semena constituency in the 2017 national elections.
The contest for the post of secretary general pits the incumbent, Phea Ntšihlele, against Sello Tšukulu of the Matelile constituency, Tšoanelo Ramakeoane and Napo Moshoeshoe, who has been holding fort as the public relations officer.
Makhetha Thaele will have to see off Tšeliso Khomari to retain the post of treasurer.
In the chairship contest, the incumbent, Mosiuoa Lithakong, faces Motlalepula Khahloe and Phea Ntšihlele.
Rorisang Mokoena and Ntsau Makhetha will battle it out for the post of deputy chairperson while Relebohile Lephoto, Motlalentoa Khoete and Leboea Khoaele will slug it out for the post of public relations officer.
Mr Mochoboroane, who served as the Minister of Small Business Development under the Pakalitha Mosisili-led former seven parties’ coalition until he was fired in February 2017, has walked the middle ground in parliament.
He has consistently refused to side with either the government or opposition, saying the MEC has no interest in the sectarian congress or nationalist politics but its primary objective is to ensure the adoption of policies that will not only unite the nation but also ensure socio-economic development.
Mr Mochoboroane has worked studiously to raise the MEC and his own profile as a no nonsense politician speaking truth to power and exposing alleged corruption in government ministries and departments as the chairperson of the immensely popular Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Despite widespread claims that he was being courted by Dr Thabane to join the governing four party coalition, Mr Mochoboroane insists that the MEC will not join the government.
He recently told the Lesotho Times that the party would use this week’s conference to come with a policy guideline that would be its blueprint when it is elected to power in the next elections.
“We have a mammoth task ahead of us as we will be adopting a policy which will guide us even when we get into government,” Mr Mochoboroane said. He also promised that his party would buck the trend where women continued to be peripheral players in party and government positions.
Rather than celebrate the fact that he is a shoe-in for the party leadership due to the absence of any challengers, he said he would have liked to see the post being contested in the spirit of democracy.
“We have also made sure that our female counterparts are well represented in the slates for the elections and this is part of our policy to see to the empowerment of women and youths.
“Like any other position, I surely would have loved to see someone take me on for the post of party leader. But it is not for me to decide and I can only accept the wishes of the party members and supporters,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
Other parties that have so far held elective conferences this year are the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) and the biggest party in the ruling coalition, the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
The January 2019 DC elective conference was historic in that it saw founding leader Pakalitha Mosisili pass the button to the fresh-faced 41-year-old Mathibeli Mokhothu.
While the DC election passed without incident, the ABC polls, where Dr Thabane’s leadership post was not up for grabs, it opened a Pandora’s Box as members of the old NEC refused to accept the outcome of the polls which ushered in the outgoing National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao as the deputy leader. The outcome of the ABC’s 1-2 February 2019 is currently the subject of court litigation by ABC cabinet ministers, Habofanoe Lehana, Keketso Sello and ABC legislator Mohapi Mohapinyane. The trio want the court to nullify the election of the new NEC and order fresh elections. They say the February polls were rigged.