MASERU — Former Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing is now the leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) after his landslide victory at the party’s elective conference on Saturday.
Metsing, 45, replaces Pakalitha Mosisili who resigned in February to form the Democratic Congress after bitter factional fights in the LCD.
Metsing, who was the secretary general until Sunday morning, won 1201 votes.
Former deputy chairman, Mohlabi Tsekoa who had become Metsing’s only challenger after Deputy Prime Minister and former leader Lesao Lehohla had pulled out got only 95 votes.
Tsekoa who is the Foreign Affairs Minister also missed out on the deputy leader’s position after he was defeated by the former publisher of the party’s mouthpiece Mololi newspaper, Motloheloa Phooko.
Phooko, who was fired from the Cabinet by Mosisili earlier this year, got 598 votes against Tsekoa’s 516.
Keketso Rants’o, the former secretary general of the party’s women’s wing, was elected the secretary general while former deputy secretary general Lebohang Nts’inyi became the treasurer.
Both were uncontested.
Lehohla’s withdrawal from the race was not the only dramatic move he had made during the conference.
Early on Saturday, while officially opening the conference in his acting capacity as the leader, Lehohla had departed from protocol by begging delegates to elect him.
Indirectly referring to Metsing as an amateur, Lehohla pleaded with delegates to seriously consider him because in the LCD “we only saddle seasoned horses for the election race”.
“When we enter the election race in the LCD, we never send amateurs but instead use seasoned horses,” Lehohla said.
Lehohla also begged the conference to elect him into power “in the same manner you did with Ntate Mosisili”.
“You bestowed respect upon Ntate Mosisili by electing him three times. Why won’t you do the same for me this once? Then I promise I’ll be on my way to Mafeteng,” Lehohla said.
During his address as the new LCD leader on Sunday afternoon, Metsing told thousands of party supporters that his election “marks a turning point in our politics”.
“This conference has been a milestone for us. The baton of leadership in the LCD has passed on from one generation to another. This is the generation that will ascend to governance after the May 26 elections,” Metsing said.
He pledged to reunite the former ruling party and refrain from acting without consultation.
“You have assigned me a very difficult duty. Nevertheless, I’ve humbly accepted your mandate and will do my best to deliver,” Metsing said.
“This is a heavy cross to carry, leading a party which is going to assume government power following the May 26 elections.”
Metsing appealed to LCD supporters to stand by him because leading the LCD would be a difficult task “if you were to desert me”.
“If you were to leave me to carry this cross alone, it will be too heavy for me and it will lead to me embarrassing you. Please help me carry this cross lest I fall from its heaviness,” he added.
“Like you I’m a mere mortal and only just a first among equals.”
Metsing also told LCD cadres that he was a leader because everything was done in consultation with the delegates.
To his colleagues in the national executive committee he said, “I’m also your equal. Please do not make me feel like I own the executive committee.”