THE Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) has elected a new national executive committee (NEC) to fill the void left by some members who dumped the Keketso Rantšo-led party after months of infighting.
The special elective conference was held on Saturday in Ladybrand in the Free State province of neighbouring South Africa, a day before the return from exile of Ms Rantšo.
Ms Rantšo returned to Lesotho on Sunday along with fellow leaders of the opposition alliance, All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane and Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ’Maseribane.
All other positions were open for contest, during the special elective conference, except that of Ms Rantšo and her deputy, Dr Motloheloa Phooko.
A storm has been brewing in the RCL since last October when then party secretary-general, ’Mamolula Ntabe announced that Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko had resigned from their positions.
However, Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko denied the claim, saying it was a ploy to destabilise the party.
Ms Ntabe has been accused of having joined forces with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), of which the RCL is an offshoot – an allegation she has vehemently denied.
Ms Rantšo, Dr Phooko and RCL youth league leader Retšelisitsoe Lesane have been linked to one of the contending factions, while Ms Ntabe and other NEC members are linked to the other.
The feud intensified after the RCL’s Deputy Secretary-General ’Maseithati Mabeleng tried to by-pass Ms Ntabe by calling for a party conference – which is the latter’s prerogative.
Ms Ntabe responded by lodging a High Court application last November seeking to call off the conference which was thrown out on Thursday 26 January, 2017.
And in the aftermath of the court ruling, spokesperson and party musician, Moshe Kopanye last week announced his defection to the ABC amid indications that more NEC members could follow suit.
Mr Kopanye defected along with backup singer and RCL chair in Motimposo constituency, Makhetha Nthafa and the deputy chair of the NEC, Kolisang Sekoati.
Last Saturday’s conference resulted in the election of ’Machabana Lemphane-Letsie to replace Ms Ntabe as secretary-general, while Ms Mabeleng retained her position as deputy secretary-general.
Others who were elected were Thulo Bataung (treasurer), Peter Letsielo (chairperson), Tšepo Letuka (deputy chairperson), Setjeo Malibu (spokesperson), Michael Thai (deputy spokesperson) and ’Maitumeleng Mpopo (editor).
Contacted for comment, Ms Rantšo said they were now “appealing to the former SG (Ms Ntabe), to return all the party belongings which were entrusted to her during her tenure”.
She also appealed with Ms Ntabe to “come to the table and iron out whatever differences that they had”.
“I am not going to bad-mouth Ms Ntabe in any way but I look forward to the day when we will be able to sit and iron out issues woman to woman,” Ms Rantšo said.