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Infighting will not affect LCD at polls: analysts

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — The current infighting within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) does not pose a threat to the party’s grip on power with the party likely to close ranks ahead of polls in 2012, analysts have said.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, who is the leader of the LCD, publicly admitted last weekend that the party was facing serious factional fights.

Mosisili was addressing an emotionally charged leadership conference of the party at Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru.

“You are fighting amongst yourselves,” Mosisili said. “Things have intensified to the extent that you have to admit even to yourselves that you are fighting.”

This was the first time that Mosisili had publicly admitted about the factionalism rocking the party.

The LCD has been split into two factions allegedly led by Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.

Metsing and Moleleki have in the past vociferously denied that they were leading any factions.

There were fears the fights could seriously damage the 13-year-old party’s electoral prospects in 2012.

But analysts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week said although the party was ravaged by factional fights, the fights did not pose a serious threat to the ruling party’s grip on power.

They said the fights would however hurt the ruling party slightly with less people expected to cast their votes in the ruling party’s favour.

Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations president, Lira Theko, said the LCD will still win the 2012 elections even under current circumstances.

“The LCD will still win elections, though by a fairly lower margin compared to other years.

“The factionalism will not really damage the party,” Theko said.

He said the factional fights showed that the ruling party was having challenges “dealing with internal strife”.

“It would seem the LCD leadership does not have in place proper mechanisms of managing internal conflict,” Theko said.

“The LCD does not focus on its policies and implementation because it spends a good part of the time trying to deal with the fighting.

“If a ruling party can spend a good five year-term focusing on internal conflict at the detriment of the needs of the people out there, then something is wrong.”

Theko said the current political circumstances were similar to the ones that existed in 1997 when the LCD broke away from the Basotho Congress Party (BCP).

“It happened in 1997 towards elections, when the LCD broke away from the BCP. It was under similar circumstances,” Theko said.

“We saw another split in 2002 when Kelebone Maope defected from LCD after which the Lesotho Peoples’ Congress was born.

“The same scenario played itself out towards the 2007 elections when the ABC was formed.”

A political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), Motlamelle Kapa, said a split within the LCD could not be discounted.

“Splits are always imminent in Lesotho political parties when we approach elections. But the LCD will likely to survive one,” Kapa said.

“In the event that it happens, the ruling party will not be adversely affected. However, it will win the elections by a lower margin in comparison to 2007.”

Kapa, who penned a political science text called Politics of Coalition in Lesotho, said opposition parties have failed to exploit the infighting within the LCD.

“Parties like the main opposition All Basotho Convention have problems of their own. They cannot hurt the LCD,” Kapa said.

Nchafatso Sello, a political analyst, said the current factional fights within the LCD were likely to fizzle out as the current fight was just about personalities.

“Unlike in Tom Thabane’s case (in 2007) where he capitalised on the weaknesses of government to garner support, the current factionalism is solely about personalities.

“Cooking up the idea of forming a new party would be a futile exercise. Some of the members of this faction made it to parliament via PR as they did not have any constituencies.”

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