MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) government collapsed yesterday in a palace coup masterminded by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
Mosisili’s move is reminiscent of 1997 when Ntsu Mokhehle dumped the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) to form the LCD government.
Mosisili managed to garner the support of 45 LCD MPs who crossed the floor in parliament to form his new Democratic Congress (DC) government.
Outside parliament DC supporters clad in primarily red regalia, who seemed to have been bussed in chanted praise songs for Mosisili.
The formation of the DC and its ascendance to power is a finale to the squabbles that have rocked the LCD for the past two years.
The LCD remains with just 20 constituencies but observers say it might be reduced to a shell in a similar manner to what became of the BCP when it was deserted by Mokhehle and his supporters.
Mosisili has moved to the DC with senior LCD figures who include Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki, Agriculture Minister Ralechate ‘Mokose, Local Government Minister Ponts’o Sekatle, Public Works Minister Semano Sekatle and Public Service Minister Ramootsi Lehata.
Sports Minister ‘Mathabiso Lepono has also joined the new party.
Moleleki is the DC’s interim deputy leader while ‘Mokose is the interim secretary general.
Mosisili told a press conference that the LCD ministers who did not join the new party retain their current positions as he had no intention of pressuring them to resign.
“When I appointed them into the cabinet, I did not put them under any pressure to follow me. It’s an individual’s prerogative to follow,” Mosisili said.
The LCD officials in question include Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa and Education Deputy Minister ‘Matanki Mokhabi who opted to remain with the LCD.
The allegiances of Finance Minister Timothy Thahane and Trade Minister Leketekete Ketso are still not clear. The two are senators who were appointed into the upper house of parliament by Mosisili himself.
However, insiders have told this paper that Ketso intends to contest this year’s poll in Leribe constituency, formerly Mohobollo, under the LCD banner against DC MP Rethabile Marumo.
Mosisili also declared at the same press briefing that his DC would make a clean sweep of the polls in the same manner the LCD did in his 15-year leadership.
“Yours truly has won elections for the LCD thrice. I am going to successfully win the elections in May for the DC and it will be the last time that I contest,” Mosisili declared.
“Basotho have bestowed upon me a lot of respect, I can’t ask for more. I’ve played my part, I’ve no regrets, and I can’t complain.
“To those who maintain that I’m holding on to power, I’m going to beat them again at the polls in May.
“Some from within us claim that the leadership train was off-track, yet they conveniently forget that I was driving it with my deputy,” Mosisili said.
“Could it be because someone was tired of being the conductor and wanted to get behind the wheel? Now they want to lay it all on me? No way,” he said defiantly.
The former ruling LCD had been entangled in a factional battle for the past two years.
The LCD’s secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki have been leading the warring factions that have now officially split the LCD.
This is not the first time that the LCD is splitting.
In 2002, Kelebone Maope left to form the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC) after falling out with Mosisili.
He left with 27 MPs but failed to keep the momentum in subsequent elections.
Then again in 2006 Thomas Thabane left the LCD to form the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, taking with him several MPs and youth supporters.