RCL infighting sucks in coalition partners

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…RCL told to put its house in order to avoid disrupting the smooth running of the govt

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE infighting pitting Reformed Congress of Lesotho’s (RCL) leader Keke Rantšo and secretary general ’Machabana Lemphane-Letsie have sucked in the party’s coalition partners who have warned the RCL to put its house in order to avoid disrupting the smooth running of the government.

Ms Rantšo, who is also the Minister of Labour and Employment, has been on the centre stage of her four-year-old party’s factional fights that have reportedly spilled into the courts of law.

Ms Rantšo played a leading role in the party’s decision to fire former secretary general ’Mamolula Ntabe in February 2017. Ms Ntabe was replaced by Ms Letsie who also serves as principal secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

But in a turn of events, Ms Letsie is said to be at the helm of a RCL faction which has turned its guns on Ms Rantšo.

The Letsie faction says Ms Rantšo should resign as party leader because she “no longer serves the mandate of the RCL”. The faction also wants her to be recalled from the government. They say that at best she should remain as an ordinary legislator. The party only obtained one proportional representation seat in the 3 June 2017 elections.

This was, however, enough to earn it a place in the four party coalition government which also comprises of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Communications Minister Thesele Maseribane’s Basotho National Party (BNP).

Sources close to the RCL this week told the Lesotho Times that the RCL’s coalition partners recently read the riot act to the party, telling it to put its house in order to avoid disrupting the smooth running of the government.

The coalition partners outlined their position to the RCL at a meeting which was attended by Tlohelang Aumane, Mahali Phamotse and Batlokoa ’Makong (all AD), Samonyane Ntsekele and Moeketsi Majoro (both ABC) and Tšepo Monethi, secretary general of the BNP.

So serious are the tensions within the RCL that the party’s treasurer, Bataung Thulo, claimed that Ms Rantšo sought to bar him from attending last Wednesday’s meeting with its coalition partners.

“Rantšo wanted me barred from the meeting (with the coalition partners). She even wanted the meeting to be aborted to prevent me from taking part. Indeed, there was a fracas over my attendance but the meeting went ahead anyway,” Thulo said.

Mr Thulo said they approached Mr Moleleki for a meeting “as we have realised that the governing coalition is taking advantage of us due to our internal fights as a party and he (Mr Moleleki) referred us to Dr Phamotse”.

Mr Thulo said that Dr Phamotse told the meeting that the RCL was “causing problems for its coalition partners and confusing them”.

“She (Dr Phamotse) also asked us to explain the contents of the letter which we wrote to the coalition leaders,” Mr Thulo said.

Mr Thulo said they wrote to the government leaders asking them to meet and agree on an arrangement that would work for the RCL.

“We want our leader (Rantšo) to resign from her ministerial post and remain an ordinary legislator. Any of the other parties in government who have an interest in the post of Minister of Labour and Employment would then discuss with us on how best they will compensate us (if one of their own is given that ministerial post).

“We feel that she (Rantšo) is no longer serving our mandate as the RCL. We wrote to the party leaders and therefore we owe no one an explanation on the contents of our letter,” Mr Thulo said.

However the other faction, which is fighting in Ms Rantšo’s corner, wants Ms Lemphane-Letsie to be recalled from her position as principal secretary instead.

RCL youth league president, Retšelisistoe Lesane, said it was “imperative” for Ms Lemphane-Letsie to resign as principal secretary.

“We still need her (Lemphane-Letsie) in the RCL but we feel that she is disrupting the party as she has even sued it. She has also tried to pull our leader out of the coalition government without a mandate to do so from the National Executive Committee (NEC) or any other legitimate body.

“It is imperative that she resigns as principal secretary or she resigns as the party’s secretary general. She cannot be both,” Mr Lesane said, adding holding the two posts made Ms Lemphane-Letsie less efficient in the execution of her party duties.

Dr Phamotse this week confirmed that they met as coalition partners but refused to give details, saying that “we were looking at how best to go forward as the four coalition parties”.

On his part, Mr Monethi said, “we met as the 4×4 secretariat, and it was at that meeting that we learnt that there were some factional fights in the RCL which had even spilled into the courts of law.

“We decided to adjourn the meeting as it was quite hard to decide on which faction to work with. We decided to report back to our principals because we were not aware of the state of affairs in the (RCL) and we don’t want to choose sides,” Mr Monethi added.

ABC secretary general Samonyane Ntsekele said he could not comment as he was in a meeting.

 

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