TEN Democratic Congress (DC) legislators are holding talks with the Alliance of Democrats (AD) on the terms for their defection to the governing party; a development that would have seismic implications for the political landscape in Lesotho.
This is according to AD deputy spokesperson, Matšana Masiphole, who also told the Lesotho Times that the talks were yet to be finalised.
“We have such a matter on our table but it’s still quite premature to discuss the details as we have agreed to keep it discreet until such time when it’s well seasoned. When such a time comes, the public will be informed of such a development,” Mr Masiphole said.
However, DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo has strongly refuted the claim, saying it was mere propaganda.
Speculation has also been rife on social media that the talks are indeed ongoing. The prevailing view is that a faction of the DC’s old guard was miffed by party leader Pakalitha Mosisili’s handpicking of Mathibeli Mokhothu as his deputy to replace now AD leader Monyane Moleleki.
Mr Moleleki, who is also deputy prime minister in the governing four party alliance, left the DC to form the AD in November last year after falling out with Dr Mosisili who was premier at the time.
The DC members said to be in discussions with the AD include spokesperson Serialong Qoo, Chairperson Motlalentoa Letsosa, Secretary-General Semano Sekatle, Women’s League boss Pontšo Sekatle, Likeleli Tampane, Ntlhoi Motsamai, Mahooana Khati, Phutuhelo Mafereka, Lethusang Kompi and Mohau Hlalele.
One DC member who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity said many party members were not happy with Mr Mokhothu’s appointment, whom they regard as a political minnow.
Mr Mokhothu fled the country in August this year citing “suspicious vehicles” at his home and alleging persecution by the government of opposition leaders such as exiled Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader Mothetjoa Metsing.
“His (Mr Mokhothu) appointment did not sit well with many of us because he was literally hand-picked, while some of us have been with the congress movement from the days of Ntate (former prime minister) Ntsu Mokhehle. Mokhothu still needs nurturing in politics,” the source said.
However, Mr Qoo was adamant such a defection was more fantasy than reality.
“There is nothing like that under the moon and the stars. There is no way anybody can leave this congress party and follow a man we know quite well. We know Ntate Moleleki and his ways. We believe he still hasn’t changed, so there is simply no way we can follow him. He is good where he is and we stayed behind for a reason. We have no regrets,” Mr Qoo said.
His sentiments were echoed by Mr Sekatle, whose name also appears on the list.
“It’s not true. There is simply no way I can defect to another party, not now and not ever. Besides how do we get to do that when parliament is closed,” he said, referring to the adjournment of parliament last Friday.
His wife, Dr Sekatle, who was recently re-elected president of the Women’s League concurred.
“That is not possible, we are solid here (in the DC),” she said.
Mr Letsosa, also dismissed the rumours as mere propaganda.
“I only heard about it some few days ago but I don’t even know where it originated from. This is sheer propaganda. I am here to stay,” he said.
Echoing the sentment, Moyeni legislator, Mahooana Rapitso Khati said there was no way he would leave the DC.
“That would be a very stupid move. My people have been loyal to me and there is simply no way I could let them down. They have voted me into parliament since 2012 to date and all that I want is for them to get services and not this cheap politics” Mr Khati said.
If the defection were to materialise, it would double the AD’s 10 numbers in parliament while further weakening the DC which currently has 29 seats in the august house.
The DC has already lost a legislator to the AD in Semena constituency MP, Tlohelang Aumane, who defected soon after the 3 June 2017 snap elections. Mr Aumane has since been appointed as Minister of Development Planning.
The defection may also result in the reconfiguration of the coalition government’s political appointments. Apart from the AD, the governing coalition consists of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho.
The ABC has the lion’s share of cabinet ministers and other political appointments due to its numerical supremacy in terms of parliamentary seats of 51.