Two Democratic Congress Youth League factions go toe-to-toe this weekend as the league holds its first national elective conference.
The potentially explosive two-day indaba begins on Saturday at Lesotho High School in Maseru, with 26 candidates vying for 13 positions in the league’s national executive.
Party leader and Prime Minister, Dr Pakalitha Mosisili, is expected to officially open the conference on Saturday morning, with the electoral process set to begin later in the day. Delegates arrive at the conference venue tomorrow evening.
Since its establishment in 2012 from the then ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), the Democratic Congress (DC) has held elective conferences for its National Executive Committee (2013), and Women’s League (2014).
According to the party’s constitution, the three national executives should be elected triennially and in successive years.
However, the weekend conference comes shortly after the party’s NEC held crisis talks with the outgoing committee over several concerns, among them over-aged members in the league, as well as factional fighting.
According to sources within the league, the talks took place at a local hotel on Friday last week and one of the topics discussed was the candidature of Thabang Kanono from Lebakeng constituency in Qacha’s Nek. Mr Kanono stood accused of misrepresenting his date of birth to qualify for the polls. Candidates are expected to be between the ages of 15 and 35, and it was alleged Mr Kanono changed his date of birth from 1974 to 1981 to fall within this category.
The league’s outgoing deputy chairperson, Ramahooana Matlosa, confirmed Mr Kanono had submitted a baptismal certificate indicating he was born in 1981 only for a subsequent probe to find otherwise.
Mr Matlosa said: “We requested all the candidates to submit their identity documents in the form of a birth certificate, passport, national ID card, baptismal certificate or an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voter’s card.
“Mr Kanono, who was also a member of the outgoing committee and was vying for the vice-president’s post, first submitted a baptismal certificate showing he was born in 1981.
“However, there were complaints raised that what appeared in the document could not be his true date of birth. An investigation was subsequently launched and his passport and IEC voter’s card indicated he was actually born in 1974.
“However, he also possessed a party membership card which ironically, showed his date of birth to be 1980.”
According to Mr Matlosa, Mr Kanono’s issue had since been resolved after he was advised to withdraw from the election.
Asked about the debacle yesterday, Mr Kanono confirmed withdrawing his candidature but not because of the age-dispute.
“I withdrew my candidature after realising my name was being abused because of the issue of two camps in the youth league.
“There are people who are believed to belong to a camp supporting (Police) Minister Monyane Moleleki (DC deputy leader), while the other group is said to support party leader, Ntate Mosisili.
“I was one of the people against factionalism in the league, which is why I am being victimised now,” he said.
Mr Kanono insisted he was born in 1981 and only withdrew from the poll in order to avoid being associated with any of the camps.
“Those I was with in the outgoing committee know about the mistake which was done on my other identity documents regarding my age. I tried to correct this with them but that could not happen anytime soon. Many of them in the committee also have wrong birthdates but that was not challenged,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Matlosa also told the Lesotho Times that the other issue discussed in last week’s meeting was the controversial election of Lithoteng and Tsikoane constituency youth committees. The executives were elected early this year amid complaints that proper procedure had not been followed.
Mr Matlosa said: “Constituency committees, unlike national ones, are elected annually. With Tsikoane and Lithoteng, complaints have since been lodged before the NEC challenging their election on allegations that proper procedures were not followed.
“After last week’s meeting, it was decided not to allow these two committees to take part in the upcoming elections. However, the two constituencies will still be represented by their previous committees.”
In a related development, the league’s president Mosala Mojakisane, his deputy ’Matlotliso Lebajoa, treasurer Keketso Molia, deputy spokesperson Liranyane Thamae and Mr Matlosa would not be part of the weekend poll as they are now beyond 35 years of age.
The league’s chairperson Thuso Litjobo, who is believed to be leading the camp behind Mr Moleleki, would battle for the presidential post against spokesperson Molebatseng Motjetjepa, said to belong to a camp supporting Dr Mosisili.
And following Mr Kanono’s withdrawal, Motsamai Motjeketje is the only candidate for the position of vice-president, while Letuka Chafotsa is up against Mangaliso Makakole for the secretary post. ’Mamolope Nomo and Mosa Mafenya would be vying for the treasurer’s position while Lekhotla Matšaba is unchallenged for the chairmanship.
Tlotliso Monaheng and ’Mantoane Lekoba would be fighting for the deputy secretary post, with ’Mamotonosi Sekonyela and Ntina Ngakane doing the same for the position of deputy chairperson.
Maliehe Lemphane and Thabo Khati would be going for the post of league spokesperson, while Fusi Ramantai and Relebohile Kou compete for the deputy’s post.
Sekake Chaole, Tšeliso Moalosi, Thabang Malesela, ’Malisema Fosere, Masole Seso, Tlalane Mapota, Nteboheleng Khasu, Pontšo Sello, Tlhabeli Mojapela and Setho Seitlheko would contest for the four positions of committee members.