MASERU – Five ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party members have filed an urgent application at the High Court seeking to block the party’s leadership from organising a special conference next month.
The five filed their court papers on Monday arguing that the special conference which is due on 19 March should be stopped because it violates the ruling party’s constitution.
A stormy leadership conference held last November resolved that the national executive committee should organise a special conference to discuss petitions from 26 constituencies.
The constituencies demanded that the national executive committee should step down because it had failed to run the party.
Under pressure, the committee then reluctantly agreed to schedule a special conference for 19 March to decide whether it should step down or not.
It is this special conference that the five LCD members are now trying to block.
The matter has been set for today.
In the application the executive committee is cited as the first respondent while the leadership conference is the second respondent.
The LCD is cited as the third respondent.
Mafa Thibeli, Ramoshe Maumo, Rammapane Maleke, Ts’oanelo Ramakeoane and Teboho Sekata are the applicants.
They are represented by prominent lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda.
The five want the resolution made by the party’s 19-20 November leadership conference to call a special conference to be declared “unconstitutional” and therefore “null and void”.
They also want the executive committee to abandon its preparations for the special conference.
In his affidavit, Thibeli, who is the first applicant and the chairman of the Mphosong constituency committee, argues that the reasons provided to justify holding the special conference “do not hold water”.
“At no stage was first respondent’s (executive committee) responses to constituencies’ letters considered and/or discussed and/ or brought to bear on the discussions before the adoption of the resolution,” Thibeli says in his affidavit.
Thibeli says he believes that the resolution made by the leadership conference cannot authorise the national executive committee to prepare and issue a circular for a special general conference “whose intended purpose is to dismember the executive committee”.
He also contends that the resolution to hold a special conference does not specify the agenda and is therefore unconstitutional.
Thibeli further states that the proposed “vote of no confidence in some members of the executive committee and not others is an illegal and unconstitutional cutting of the umbilical cord between the executive committee and the leader and his deputy”.
Party leader Pakalitha Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla are the only executive committee members whose positions are safe.
“First respondent consists of a collective of men and women who are collectively responsible to discharge the duties and functions stipulated in Article 7.1.3 of the constitution of the LCD,” Thibeli says.
“Among these duties is to ensure legality of party action and membership conduct by seeing to it that the constitution, laws and rules of procedure are adhered to and followed at party conferences.”
Where the first respondent is requested to call a special general conference by the constituencies such request must be accompanied by reasons, Thibeli says in his affidavit.
“I verily believe that such accompanying reasons must be legal, lawful and constitutional and not otherwise.”
According to Thibeli, the reasons accompanying the said request by the 26 constituencies are unreasonable.
“Such a call which seeks to dismember the executive committee by a vote of no confidence unfairly discriminates against the secretary-general and others,” Thibeli says.
In a similar manner it violates the provisions of the constitution of Lesotho against discrimination, adds
Thibeli who is also the Mphosong constituency chairman.
He says that because the executive committee acts as a unit its members are collectively responsible for the good and bad, strengths and weaknesses of the committee.
Article 220.127.116.11 of the LCD constitution, Thibeli argues, directs that the NEC (national executive committee) must be removed in its entirety if the special
conference determines that the committee and not some members “show weakness which constitutes danger to the party”.
“I am of the belief that the proposed vote of no confidence which targets the secretary general and those following after him as the only targets for such a vote……is unacceptable in terms of the constitution of the party,”
He further argues that if there were grievances regarding any member of executive committee, the party leader (Mosisili) is empowered by the LCD constitution “to take action against the erring member”.
At best, Thibeli says, the constituencies and special general conference can call upon the leader to censure any NEC member if there is a revelation of personal misconduct or incompetence on the part of such a member.
To strengthen his argument, Thibeli says in the Mphosong constituency committee meeting of 16 January 2011, it was resolved that a letter should be written requesting a reversal of the decision made by the LCD executive committee to call a special conference as it appears in the 30 December 2010 circular.
“In its response, the executive committee absolved itself of the responsibility to call the special conference,” Thibeli says.
“This it said was done on the basis that it was merely implementing a resolution of the leadership conference and not doing so in exercise of its powers.”
He says the LCD constitution was violated because democratically elected members of the executive committee are being subjected to an unconstitutional impeachment.
Thibeli also expresses concern at the fact that the LCD was focusing on internal party problems instead of dedicating its efforts to the forthcoming local government elections and addressing the “endemic poverty besetting the nation”.
“The LCD should not be expending its energy in the creation of space for members to unseat each other unconstitutionally from positions in the party. This is creating divisions within the party.”