MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) national executive committee is deeply divided over whether to call an extraordinary conference to deal with petitions from 35 constituencies calling for the dissolution of the committee.
The committee last Friday allegedly bluntly refused to call the conference at a stormy meeting chaired by the party’s deputy leader Lesao Lehohla.
A leadership conference held on November 18 resolved that the committee should call a special conference to deal with the petitions.
But in open defiance of the directive, the committee last Friday is said to have told Lehohla that it was not going to call the extraordinary conference that would strip it of its powers before the end of its tenure.
Lehohla confirmed there were still some national executive committee members who were adamant that the meeting should not go ahead.
“There were others who felt that the conference should not be called. I think such ones were misinterpreting the decisions of the leadership conference or the LCD constitution,” he said.
Lehohla however dismissed as untrue allegations that the national executive committee had openly revolted against him.
He also said he never threw in the towel promising to refer the matter to party leader Pakalitha Mosisili.
“No, it did not go that far,” Lehohla said.
“The agenda of the meeting was prolonged because some unanticipated issues were raised and unfortunately I had other businesses to attend and I had to leave,” he said.
“Such matters were deferred to the LCD leader as I had not dealt with them because I had very limited time for further discussions.”
But a source who attended the meeting however said committee members had openly revolted against Lehohla.
Lehohla was chairing the meeting in Mosisili’s absence.
“The committee members were out of control,” the source said.
“They told him bluntly that they were refusing to call the conference because according to them there was no need to do so.”
The majority of the national executive committee members are understood to be members of a faction believed to be led by the party’s secretary general, Mothetjoa Metsing.
The constituencies that sent petitions to the LCD headquarters in September saying they had no confidence in the executive committee are believed to be in Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki’s camp.
The two factions are locked in a bitter fight for control of the party.
Both Moleleki and Metsing have in the past vehemently denied that they were leading any factions.
Among the people the committee said they wanted relieved of their duties were Metsing, Lebohang Nts’inyi, chairperson Thabang Pheko, deputy chairperson Mohlabi Tsekoa, treasurer Popane Lebesa, publicist Khotso Matla and Motloheloa Phooko who edits the party newspaper, Mololi.
Nts’inyi and Lebesa were last month fired from their ministerial positions in a major cabinet reshuffle.
The Metsing faction on Sunday is alleged to have held an unofficial meeting in Khubetsoana, north of Maseru, where it allegedly resolved to oppose the move to call the special conference.
Mosisili called a crisis national executive committee meeting yesterday at State House to discuss the Friday fiasco.
The issue of the special conference was expected to top the agenda.
But while the committee was meeting at State House party youths allegedly aligned to Metsing gathered at the party headquarters in Maseru.
The police had to be sent in to dispel the youths at around mid-day.
The party’s executive secretary, Ts’eliso Sekoere, said he was in a meeting with some of the youth league committee members discussing how they were going to deal with the unofficial gathering when the police arrived to disperse them.
“I do not know who called the police but I am sure that none of the people I was with in the office called them,” Sekoere said.
“Nobody from this office had called the youths to gather here,” he said.
“Their gathering was gaining momentum when the police arrived.”
Sekoere said he did not know what the youth wanted as they did not discuss anything with him.
The police went to the LCD offices after consultations with Lehohla.
Lehohla said he received a call from the police asking if he knew anything about the gathering outside the party’s offices.
“I told the police that it was up to them to check if the gathered youths had a permit,” he said.
“If they did not have it, it was apparent that the gathering was unlawful and I told the police that they knew their duty.”
The youth were not chanting party songs as usual but had formed several small groups in front of the office expressing their dissatisfaction with the manner Mosisili was treating the national executive committee.
The youth allegedly acted on information that Mosisili was about to turn the tables on the executive committee at the meeting.
“The plan was to lay siege at the office once we received information that the leader had pressed on with plans to stage the special conference,” said one of the youths on condition of anonymity.
Lehohla said he left the State House meeting early and therefore he did not know its outcome.