. . . orders party indaba to take ‘harsh, disciplinary measures’
DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, has called for an emergency party conference as he seeks to undo the National Executive Committee’s (NEC) decision to pull out of the coalition government.
In a sign the DC leader is not taking the unprecedented challenge to his rule lying down, Dr Mosisili says he intends to take “harsh, disciplinary measures” on the NEC for its decisions that are “dangerous to the party”.
However, Dr Mosisili’s rival and DC deputy leader Monyane Moleleki has described the move as “out of order”, calling on the premier to explain himself to the NEC today or risk suspension.
This comes after the NEC, which has aligned itself with Mr Moleleki, last Thursday pulled out of the seven-party governing coalition.
Among the reasons the DC NEC cited for the withdrawal was the coalition government’s alleged failure to unite the politically-polarised nation, corruption, nepotism and deteriorating relations with development partners. The NEC, which is the DC’s supreme decision making body between conferences, also called for the formation of a new “all-inclusive government” including parties in both the government and opposition.
Mr Moleleki and four other ministers and deputies resigned from government the next day, saying they were heeding the NEC’s call to withdraw from the coalition.
The ministers who resigned are DC Secretary-General Ralechate ’Mokose (Forestry and Land Reclamation), Public Works and Transport Deputy Minister ’Manthabiseng Phohleli, Law, Constitution and Human Rights Minister Mokhele Moletsane, and Local Government Deputy Minister Kotiti Liholo.
Mr Moleleki, Mr ’Mokose, Mr Moletsane and Mr Liholo also moved to the National Assembly’s crossbench last Friday to signify their withdrawal from the government.
However, Dr Mosisili, who had all the while been reticent on the developments, finally spoke his mind in a fiery notice to the DC’s grassroots structures.
Dated 14 November 2016, the notice slates the conference to 2 – 4 December this year at the ’Manthabiseng National Convention Centre.
Part of the notice reads: “According to section 3.2.1 of our party constitution, a special general conference of the party will be called by a decision taken by the following procedures on their own account: general conference, leadership conference, leader of the party, National Executive Committee and it shall be called with the instruction of 10 constituencies.”
Dr Mosisili outlines his powers and duties as encapsulated in the DC constitution.
“The main functions of the DC leader as provided for in 5.3.1 (a), (f) (k) are to serve and to protect the image of the party; call a special general conference when he deems it necessary, especially when the party is in crisis; and to supervise the function of the national executive committee and its members in general.
“Aligning myself with the sections 3.2.1 (C) and 5.3.1 (a) (f) and (k), which I have quoted above, I have made a decision to call a special general conference of our party DC.”
Rescinding the NEC’s decision to pull out of government, he says, will rank high on the conference’s agenda.
“The important issue that this conference is convened to evaluate is to rescind the actions of other members of the NEC, which according to my thinking has put our party DC in crisis. It is also meant to take harsh disciplinary measures against the NEC on its decisions that are dangerous to the party,” notes Dr Mosisili.
“These are actions that taint the image of the party in the politics of Lesotho, our coalition government partners and to the international community.”
The DC leader says the NEC usurped his powers and “acted in a manner that jeopardised the integrity of the party” on two counts.
“One of the unfortunate decisions the members of the NEC made was withdrawing the DC from the seven-party coalition government at a press conference held on 10 November 2016.”
Dr Mosisili also takes particular umbrage with Mr ’Mokose for disassociating the DC from a march held by coalition supporters to show “full solidarity” with the premier and his government in September this year.
He also takes issue with the NEC’s decision to support Mr ’Mokose’s remarks.
“A second example is a press conference where some members of the NEC announced their support for the secretary-general (Mr ’Mokose), after he acted beyond the mandate of the same NEC or consent of the leader by announcing on radio stations that the DC does not support a march showing confidence in the prime minister and the seven-party coalition government.”
Dr Mosisili further states the “finer details” of the charges he intends to lay on the NEC members would be revealed at the conference.
“As the responsibility of the leader is, among others, to work for and protect the name of the party in line with section 5.3.1 (a) and to oversee the functions of the NEC in line with section 5.3.1 (k), I am duty bound to appeal for the special general conference.
“It is the one that will mediate, discipline, intervene and rescue the DC from the NEC, of which I am the chairperson.
“Lastly, I remind you about the composition of the special general conference. It is regulated by section 3.2.4 of the party constitution that provides that ‘Delegations to this conference shall be constituted by delegates of the past general conference that precedes the year of the conference, and the appointment of such a delegation shall be completed at least a week before the conference’.
“This means that the number of delegates at the conference should be equal to the delegation of the past party general conference that was held in January 2016. Again, this means the appointment of the delegation should have been completed by 26 November. You should realise the importance of correctly preparing for this conference, and making all preparations in peace.”
Commenting on the notice, DC spokesperson, Serialong Qoo, said Dr Mosisili called for the conference after realising that “some people wanted to hold the party at ransom”.
He said it was “shocking” that people elected to administer the affairs of the party together with Dr Mosisili were now making decisions without his input.
“It is surprising that DC Secretary-General Ralechate ‘Mokose went to meet Ntate Mosisili and requested an emergency meeting for which he failed to substantiate. That’s when they (NEC) announced that the DC had withdrawn from the government,” Mr Qoo said, adding the preparations for the special conference would be managed by Dr Mosisili himself.
For his part, Mr Moleleki said the NEC resolved to give Dr Mosisili a fair hearing today so he could “show cause” why he should not be suspended.
“The NEC is the face of the party. It is not only the legal face of the party but the procedural, administrative and constitutional face of the party,” he said in an interview with this paper.
“That notice is out of order! We have served him with a letter to come and make representations to us tomorrow (today).
Mr Moleleki added: “We have given him more than 24 hours to come and explain himself and show us cause why we should not take disciplinary action against him, because he is not above the party.”
“He (Dr Mosisili) cannot just issue circulars besides or outside of the NEC. He is totally out of order.”