Fired minister quits LCD executive

MASERU — Former trade minister Popane Lebesa has resigned as treasurer of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) nearly two months after he was booted out of cabinet.

Lebesa tendered his resignation letter on Tuesday last week.

This week the former minister confirmed that he was no longer a member of the LCD national executive committee.

The committee is expected to dispatch a circular to the constituencies anytime from now announcing Lebesa’s resignation.

Lebesa, a former lecturer who also worked as an assistant finance minister, was elected treasurer in 2006.

He retained the position after a bitterly contested election in 2009.

His resignation comes at a time when the ruling party’s national executive committee is under pressure to quit office.

Dozens of constituencies have submitted petitions demanding that the committee be disbanded for alleged “insubordination, dishonesty and disloyalty”. 

The petitions said every member of the committee except party leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla should go. 

A stormy leadership conference last month resolved that a special conference be called to decide the committee’s fate.

The committee is currently organising the special conference although it is understood that some of them are not really keen on it because they fear they might be voted out. 

Efforts to topple the Mothetjoa Metsing-led committee are understood to be part of the power struggles that have rocked the party for the past two years.

Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki is understood to be the mastermind behind the plot to push out Metsing’s committee.

Both Metsing and Moleleki have in the past vehemently denied that they belong to the two warring factions in the party.

In public party leaders have tried to downplay the problems with Lehohla telling the Sunday Express last week that the disagreements in the committee were not a sign of divisions but a healthy debate among senior party members trying to solve problems.

Yet such assurances have not stopped the rumour mill from speculating that so deep is the chasm in the party that a split might be imminent.

There is also speculation that Mosisili might be forced to call a snap election early next year if he loses support in parliament. 

But Lebesa told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that his resignation had nothing to do with the “so-called squabbles”.

He said after he was fired from cabinet he decided it was time to work on regaining his Maseru constituency which he lost in the 2007 election.

After losing the seat Lebesa had to be accommodated into parliament through the proportional representation seat under the National Independent Party which had forged an electoral pact with the LCD.

He said after losing his ministerial job he decided to use the time he now has to start campaigning for the 2012 elections.

“I had no other option but to resign after I was relieved of my ministerial duties,” Lebesa said.

“I then realised that I could use the opportunity to work in my constituency to the maximum,” he said.

“My work as a minister and as a member of the national executive committee was too demanding and I had a very limited time for my constituency.

“I was not happy at all when this constituency was won by the opposition in the 2007 polls and so I am now going to straighten what was bent.”

Lebesa said the squabbles in the committee were sorted out at last month’s leadership conference.

“To my understanding, the squabbles were dealt with at the leadership conference and I resigned after that conference,” Lebesa said when asked if his resignation had anything to do with the problems in the committee.

“The leadership conference has directed that the special conference should be called to deal with the matter and I understand that by so doing it deferred the matters to the members of the party,” he said.

“To me, there are no more squabbles. We are waiting for the calling of the special conference where the members of this party will show us the way.”

Lehohla has said he will support the committee during the special conference.

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