MASERU — Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Pakalitha Mosisili says the ruling party is in “serious trouble” following an aborted special conference last weekend.
Mosisili spoke as sources within the LCD admitted for the first time that the party could be headed for an acrimonious split a few months before a key general election.
Addressing about 1 500 party supporters at ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre grounds on Sunday, Mosisili confirmed the party was divided right through the middle.
“This party is in trouble, we should try to work out our issues as calmly as possible,” Mosisili said.
“I hoped that we would leave the conference as one big united party. But unfortunately that is not the case.”
The LCD special conference degenerated into a farce last weekend as delegates from the two warring factions almost came to blows over the accreditation of delegates.
The LCD executive committee is controlled by members of a faction aligned to secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing while a rival faction is led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
Mosisili, who is believed to have thrown his weight behind the Moleleki faction, had no kind words for the Metsing-led national executive committee accusing it of bussing in delegates to sway the vote.
He said he had lost confidence in the executive committee.
“I need to know that the men and women who walk behind me are people that I can trust and work freely with. I should know where each and every one of you stands,” Mosisili said.
“We control this country’s administration as the LCD. If there’s no stability within our party, it could easily affect the stability of the whole country.”
He was adamant that the Metsing faction had attempted to smuggle in delegates into the conference.
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“Had the executive committee not tried to smuggle false delegates into the conference, this could not have happened.
“Delegates can never enter the LCD structures coming from the top through the NEC or the credentials committee and be imposed on us,” Mosisili said.
“For any member to be where I am today, they have to start at the bottom and ascend the LCD ladder via the right channels. Therefore it’s not surprising that the conference failed.”
Mosisili told the supporters that it was unheard of for a credentials committee to call and accredit delegates using its own list “while rejecting authentic delegates”.
“How did the credentials committee know the names of the delegates being called out for accreditation? Where did it get them from? What a miracle! Never been heard of before,” Mosisili said.
“In the LCD, when delegates come for a conference, delegations are composed at constituency level and accompanied by officials such as secretary, treasurer and chairman.
“The credentials committee then accredits delegates having received their lists from constituency officials. Whether or not they hold LCD11 forms, the constituency secretary is the only official with the right to validate them.”
Mosisili said this had been the practice within the congress movement since 1952.
“When delegates are not authentic, a conference can never succeed. The main question is: Where were these other delegates coming from?” Mosisili said.
He said although the conference was supposed to end on Sunday it was strange that “up to now we haven’t been able to enter the conference hall”.
“It was by design that we would leave this place having not entered the hall to convene a conference that came as a Court of Appeal order and a subject of litigation for ages,” Mosisili said.
Mosisili said the national executive committee was made up of individuals who had forgotten where they came from.
“The truth of the matter is that when power has been bestowed upon people, they quickly forget those who gave it to them. They assume that they can hold the LCD hostage, like in 1997,” Mosisili said.
Mosisili appealed to constituency officials and delegates to return to the people at the grassroots and inform them of the events in Maseru and “come back to me in three weeks”.
“When you come back, tell me what the people at the grassroots say, if they embrace what you tell them and what they suggest should be the way forward,” Mosisili said.
“This party is in trouble, we should try to work out our issues as calmly as possible. If the people say they will follow our lead, let me know.”
He said the LCD should go to the 2012 elections as one big family and give its leader the guarantee that he would not have to watch his back at every turn.
Some of the ministers who attended the impromptu rally were Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki, Agriculture Minister Ralechate ’Mokose, Health Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng and Assistant Home Affairs Minister Lineo Molise-Mabusela.
Also in attendance were Public Works Minister Semano Sekatle, Local Government Minister Pontšo Sekatle, Public Service Minister Ramootse Lehata and Education Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla.
But a senior LCD official who spoke to the Lesotho Times yesterday said Mosisili’s claims were not correct.
He said the credentials committee that was tasked with selecting delegates was made up of “three party stalwarts whose credibility was never in doubt”.
The source said the committee made up of chairman, Moeketsi Sello, Tefo Mabote and Sephiri Motanyane, was appointed with the blessing of Mosisili himself and did a good job in clearing delegates ahead of the conference.
He said it was the Moleleki faction that bussed in supporters who were not from the branches to vote in a new committee that Mosisili would be comfortable with.