Church leaders wade into DC feud

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Billy Ntaote

CHURCH leaders under the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) have met representatives of the feuding Democratic Congress (DC) factions to call for an end to the infighting that has crippled the National Assembly and hence service delivery.

The strife-torn DC has been rocked by a leadership succession feud between party leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his deputy Monyane Moleleki that has raptured the party into two distinct factions.

Mr Moleleki, who is also Machache constituency legislator, is backed by the DC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and Youth League with his faction colloquially known as Lirurubele (butterflies).

For his part, Dr Mosisili’s Lithope (loosely translated to mean girlfriends) consists of members of the DC Women’s League and MPs from the party’s mostly rural strongholds.

Earlier this month, the NEC announced the party had withdrawn from the seven-party governing coalition government, in which it was the main partner, and ordered members including Dr Mosisili to resign from their government positions.

The NEC, which is the DC’s supreme decision making body between conferences, cited corruption, nepotism and deteriorating relations with development partners as some of the reasons they broke off from government.

The DC formed a coalition government with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Marematlou Freedom Party, Basotho Congress Party, National Independent Party, Lesotho People’s Congress and Popular Front for Democracy after the snap 28 February 2015 general elections resulted in a hung parliament.

Mr Moleleki and four other ministers and deputies also resigned from government, before moving to the National Assembly’s crossbench to signify their withdrawal from the government.

This was after Dr Mosisili had purged or demoted ministers aligned to the Lirurubele faction, with Mr Moleleki consigned to the Prime Minister’s Office from the influential Police and Public Safety portfolio – a move the latter described as a demotion.

Not long after that, the NEC suspended Dr Mosisili for alleged misconduct, with the premier defiantly dismissing the move as “null and void”, saying the committee did not have the powers to make such a decision.

He has since called for an emergency party conference from 2 to 4 December this year to take “harsh disciplinary measures” on the NEC for its decisions that are “dangerous to the party”. Dr Mosisili also wrote letters to Mr Moleleki and DC Secretary-General Ralechate ’Mokose requesting them to furnish him with reasons why they should not be suspended.

The impasse in the DC has also spilt into the National Assembly, with Mr Moleleki vowing to hold the national budget “at ransom” until government annuls its controversial vehicle fleet services contract with Bidvest Bank Limited.

The Lirurubele faction has accused members of Lithope of corruptly influencing the awarding of the deal by disregarding due process in awarding the tender to Bidvest at the expense of joint venture company, Lebelonyane that had been recommended for the contract.

Mr Moleleki said MPs in his camp would not help pass the national budget as long as Bidvest retained the contract. The annual budgetary allocations are usually held in February since Lesotho’s financial year starts in April.

CCL Secretary-General Khosi Makubakube this week told the Lesotho Times the council met with DC officials from across the factional divide to make them “understand the gravity of the infighting in the party”.

“On Thursday last week, we met the prime minister and he confirmed to the heads of churches there was a misunderstanding between him and his party’s NEC,” said Mr Makubakube.

“He also confirmed the infighting had resulted in a stalemate in parliament and adversely affected the oversight function of the National Assembly on government.”

Mr Makubakube also revealed the CCL met 11 NEC members who also confirmed the impasse between them and Dr Mosisili.

He said the CCL’s main interest was to express their concerns over the infighting’s crippling effect on the National Assembly’s oversight function.

“We have no interest in the political issues surrounding the infighting or in mediating in their internal affairs. We are more concerned with how this infighting is crippling the oversight function of the National Assembly and affecting government as well as its ability to deliver services to the general public,” said Mr Makubakube.

Contacted for comment, Dr Mosisili’s spokesperson Motumi Ralejoe confirmed the premier’s meeting with the CCL, but would not be drawn to divulge details of the gathering saying any more questions should be directed to DC officials.

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