By Billy Ntaote
MASERU —The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) lost 168 members to the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) at the weekend.
The defections took place at a DC rally held in Taung, which is the home constituency of the recently-expelled LCD secretary-general, Keketso Rantšo.
Rantšo holds a Proportional Representation seat in parliament after losing the Taung Constituency to the DC candidate, Phallang Monare, in the May 26 2012 general election.
According to LCD sources, the 168 members decided to follow the party’s former constituency chairperson, Rampaola Monare, who defected to the DC — allegedly following a bitter dispute with Rantšo.
“Monare said his decision to defect came after numerous attempts to have his fight with Rantšo resolved within the LCD structures, proved futile.
“He said his differences with Rantšo date as far back as 2012, following the May 26 general elections.
“Monare also told us he reported the matter to the Taung Constituency Committee, and after it failed to resolve the dispute, he took the case to the party’s National Executive Committee, which also could not end the quarrel,” one of the LCD sources said.
Repeated attempts to reach Monare for comment were unsuccessful this week, while Rantšo said the defections were a loss to the LCD, particularly her home constituency of Taung.
Rantšo, however, insisted the resignations were not connected to her dismissal as party secretary-general, two weeks ago.
“This should not be taken as an exceptional case because we have heard about such so-called defections in the past, where the DC would falsely claim that large numbers of people have joined them from other parties.
“Two good examples are the so-called mass-defections which were claimed to have taken place in Mechachane and Mahobong constituencies,” she said.
While Rantšo pointed out that LCD also continues to receive new members “on a daily basis”, losing supporters to other parties affected her.
“I don’t like to lose supporters; actually I get angry if I lose people and I should say even if we still gain members from the DC, we should not be losing supporters to the DC,” Rantšo said.
Asked about her alleged differences with Monare, Rantšo, who is also the Minister of Labour, said: “When Monare defected to the DC, he was just an ordinary member of the party, as he had been removed as constituency chairperson.
“This move came after he, and the constituency’s deputy secretary, wrote a no-confidence letter on the LCD National Executive Committee (NEC), under the guise that it was from the entire Taung Constituency.”