LCD cracks widen

MASERU — The rift within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party widened this week with speculation that party treasurer, Popane Lebesa, had resigned from the national executive committee.

Although LCD’s deputy leader Lesao Lehohla could not confirm that Lebesa had resigned he gave the impression that the resignation was due to be discussed at a crisis executive meeting held at State House yesterday.

Lehohla told the Lesotho Times that when he left the meeting earlier to attend other businesses “the issue of his (Lebesa’s) resignation had not yet been discussed.”

“I left the meeting before his resignation letter could be read,” Lehohla said.

“You will know about it at the right time,” he said.

“It will be officially announced at its own time, if ever there is such a thing,” he said.

Lehohla said Lebesa was not present at the State House meeting.

The LCD is going through turbulent times with two factions said to be headed by Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki vying for power.

The party is currently embroiled in acrimonious debate on whether to call an extraordinary conference to deal with petitions from 35 constituencies that want the supreme national executive committee disbanded.

Lehohla last Friday chaired a stormy meeting where the issue of the special conference was discussed.

He said Lebesa was not present at the meeting.

Lebesa was in October relieved of his ministerial responsibilities in a major reshuffle that political observers said had targeted members of the Metsing faction.

If the resignation is confirmed it would come at a time when the LCD is facing its most serious internal strife since the party was formed 13 years ago.

The LCD has only had one major serious fallout when then deputy prime minister Kelebone Maope broke away to form his own Lesotho People’s Congress in 2002.

At least 27 LCD MPs crossed the floor and joined Maope.

Lebesa was among key figures who remained loyal to the LCD and stayed with that party in his Maseru constituency.

He contested for elections and became an MP and was later appointed an assistant finance minister.

He assumed a full ministerial post in 2004 when he was appointed Minister of Public Works.

In 2007 another storm hit the LCD when Thomas Thabane crossed the floor to form the All Basotho Convention party.

Lebesa, now appointed trade minister after the 2007 snap election, ascended the LCD ladder and was elected the party’s national treasurer.

When fierce factional wars rocked the LCD again, he found himself in the losing faction.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili fired him as trade minister in October and replaced him with Dr Leketekete Ketso.

Ironically, Ketso was among the MPs who crossed the floor together with Maope eight years ago.

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