. . .succeeds founding Democratic Congress leader, Pakalitha Mosisili
THE Democratic Congress (DC) leadership contest lived up to expectations with Mathibeli Mokhothu polling 1681 votes to trounce his opponent, Tlohang Sekhamane, who polled a paltry 84 votes at the party’s elective conference which was held in Ha Foso, Berea this past weekend.
Mr Mokhothu served as the deputy leader after the December 2016 departure of Monyane Moleleki and several other DC officials to form the Alliance of Democrats (AD). He takes over from founding leader, Pakalitha Mosisili who formally stepped down at the elective conference.
At 41 years of age, he becomes the youngest person to hold the leadership post.
It had widely been expected that the youthful Mr Mokhothu, who reportedly had the full backing of Dr Mosisili, would emerge victorious against the older and more experienced Mr Sekhamane who was the party’s deputy secretary general.
All seats in the DC’s national executive committee (NEC) were up for grabs and 1913 voters cast their votes, giving Mr Mokhothu an unassailable 88 percent of the votes.
His former post as deputy leader was taken up by former chairperson Motlalentoa Letsosa who convincingly beat his opponent, the little-known Tau Noka.
Mr Letsosa who is the legislator for the Qalabane #54 polled 1621 votes against Mr Noka’s 87.
Mr Tšitso Cheba of ’Makhoroana #20 constituency is the new secretary general after garnering 1540 votes to beat Molise Tšeole of Berea #27 who only managed 144 votes.
The post of secretary general was previously held by Semano Sekatle who jumped ship last month and joined Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC).
The deputy secretary general contest was won by Molise Mofolo of Kolonyama #18 who polled 1511 votes to defeat Maile Masoebe of Thaba-Phatšoa #08 who only obtained 261 votes.
Hlalele Letšaba of Mafeteng #55 is the new treasurer after obtaining 1538 votes to thrash the former rector of the Lerotholi Polytechnic, Tsietsi Lebakae, of the Mabote #29 constituency. Mr Lebakae obtained a meagre 242 votes.
Mosala Mojakisane of Thaba-Bosiu #38 takes over as chairperson after garnering 1563 votes to defeat Maimane Maphathe who came in a distant second with 212 votes.
Serialong Qoo, the legislator for Malingoaneng #77, retained his position as party spokesperson after he stood unopposed.
He will be deputised by Ramosa Ramaisa of Hlotse #13 who garnered 1539 votes to beat fellow contestants Mr Lefu Lefu of Likhoele #53 (119 votes) and Temba Molikoe of Berea #27 (113 votes).
Tšoeu Mokeretla of Mashai #76 was elected unopposed for the post of publicity manager and he will be deputised by Nteboheng Ranthamane of Moyeni #65 who polled 1572 votes to ’Mamasiela Madonzela of Butha-Buthe #5’s 253 votes.
Tebalo Mpiti of Tsoelike of #71, ’Mamookho Phiri (Khafung #), Palo Leteetee (Qhalasi #57) and Liphapang Rapontšo of Gauteng province all come in as committee members.
The elections were followed by a star rally at an open space in Ha Foso on Sunday. Thousands of DC supporters turned up to witness Dr Mosisili hand over the baton to Mr Mokhothu who is widely seen as the former premier’s protégé.
Mr Mokhothu received a bible, DC constitution and party flag from Dr Mosisili who said the artefacts were ceremonially given as a testimony to the smooth and peaceful hand over of power in the party.
“The first weapon I am passing on to him (Mr Mokhothu) as a symbol of the smooth handover of power is the book of wisdom, the bible,” Dr Mosisili said, adding that he expected his successor to fully utilise the bible during his tenure.
“The second one which is equally important in the life of a congress member is the party constitution and the third is the party flag which bears the black, green and red colours.
“Black symbolises the congress members who are also African. The green says we are God’s children and the red symbolises the blood of all those who died in the struggle for liberation.”
A visibly emotional Mr Mokhothu appeared to struggle for words and only nodded his head by way of acceptance as he received each of the items from his predecessor.
It remains to be seen whether or not Mr Mokhothu will succeed in re-unifying the party whose elective conference was held against the background of serious divisions that exploded after the December 2016 departure of former deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, and many others to form the AD.
Some senior party officials opposed the elevation of Mr Mokhothu to the post of deputy leader, saying that Dr Mosisili had displayed bias in handpicking the former ahead of more seasoned politicians.
The DC split into two main camps. One faction, known as Melele, was said to favour Mr Sekhamane and the other faction, the Liphakoe, backed Mr Mokhothu in his quest to succeed Dr Mosisili.
Ahead of his departure, Dr Mosisili recently bemoaned the “shocking levels” of infighting in his party amid accusations that he favoured some members at the expense of others. This, he said, had compelled him to announce his decision to quit in writing instead of communicating it orally.
“No matter how good a dancer you may be, there must be a time to come down from the stage and such a time has come for me to step aside.
“I take opportunity to humbly notify you that I shall not be contesting for the party’s leadership in the up-coming elective conference and therefore this means that as you ready yourself (for the conference), know that the leadership vacancy is also up for grabs and you should all be ready to elect a new leader,” Dr Mosisili wrote ahead of the elective conference.