DC rocked by another defection

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Mohalenyane Phakela

ANOTHER defection has rocked the Democratic Congress (DC) after former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s former office assistant, Nteboheleng Rose Ralekutu, recently crossed over to the All Basotho Convention (ABC).

Ms Ralekutu was unveiled during the party’s Sunday rally at Likhoele in Mafeteng by deputy leader Prince Maliehe as a new addition to the ABC family.

Her defection comes just months after the departure of former secretary general Semano Sekatle to join the ABC last December. When Mr Sekatle crossed the floor, it was purported that nine more defections were soon to follow when the parliament re-opened in January.

Some senior ABC officials who spoke to the Lesotho Times last December said the defection of Mr Sekatle and the impending defection of other key DC members was the outcome of lengthy negotiations which were underpinned by the ABC’s determination to increase its majority in parliament.

Before Mr Sekatle’s defection, the ABC had 51 seats. It is the largest party in the ruling coalition. It combined its seats with the Alliance of Democrats’ nine, the Basotho National Party’s five and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho’s one, enabling them to pass the 61-seat threshold required to form government in the 120-seat National Assembly.

Mr Sekatle was initially appointed as the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture, filling the vacancy that was created by the sacking of outgoing ABC chairperson, Motlohi Maliehe, last August. He was however, last month moved to the Ministry of Public Service when Prime Minister Thomas Thabane reshuffled his cabinet.

Mr Sekatle is the member of parliament for the Lebakeng constituency and he received the second highest votes in the June 2017 national elections. Only Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who stood in the Ha Abia constituency, had more votes than him.

Mr Sekatle, who held different cabinet portfolios in the previous government led by the outgoing DC leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, is the third high-profile DC member to dump the party to join one of the parties in the ruling coalition.

Development Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane and Deputy Minister of Education Mothepu Mahapa left the DC last year to join Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s AD.

Immediately after being sworn-in at the Royal Palace in Maseru in December, Mr Sekatle announced that he had ditched the DC to join Dr Thabane’s ABC. He said his decision was prompted by the “fact that the DC’s national executive committee (NEC) had made his stay in the party a living hell”.

This was however, refuted by the DC which called him an opportunist while former leader Pakhalitha Mosisili, implored Mr Sekatle’s constituency to teach him a lesson by not voting for him in the next election.

And on Sunday, Ms Ralekutu was announced as the latest defection to the ruling ABC.

“She is the latest addition to the ABC as we move to conquer Qacha’s Nek and all its constituencies,” Mr Maliehe said.

“We all know which party dominated Qacha’s Nek and we are moving to overturn that.”

For her part, Ms Ralekutu said that she has for a while been working with the ABC and was responsible for its winning of the Auplasi council in Tsoelike during the local government elections and was going to do more to grow the ABC.

“I am from the Tsoelike constituency where there are 24 councils. ‘Me Maesaiah (First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane) sent me while going for local government elections which I fulfilled as ABC won the council for the first time. She has once again given me another task which I vow to fulfil,” Ms Ralekutu said while concluding her statement with the ABC slogan, “La Chaba”.

Contacted for comment, Dr Mosisili yesterday said he had no time to waste “on such nonsense” like Ms Ralekutu’s defection. He said she was free to join any party that she wanted.

He however, said he took offense in Ms Ralekutu’s mention of his late mother and himself during her introduction to her new party.

“I don’t think I want to waste time on such nonsense. For me, she is just a person seeking personal benefits without any principles.

“Its unfortunate that we have such people (like Ms Ralekutu and Mr Sekatle) with no conviction and no idea of the political ideology that they want to follow.

“I heard yesterday from people that heard a recording from the rally where she was introduced as an ABC member that she claimed that my mother was a member of the Basotho National Party (BNP) but I chose to follow the BCP. It’s very strange that she chose to drag my mother and myself in talk about pleasing her new bosses.

“If it’s true, then she is totally out of line. That is one thing I take offense in. I find it offensive. Ntebo (Ms Ralekutu) is so young that she neither knows my mother nor her political involvements. After all, my mother was never BNP. What boggles me is why she is bringing my mother into her business,” Dr Mosisili said.

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