RCL rocked by defections

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

REFORMED Congress for Lesotho’s (RCL) spokesperson and party musician, Moshe Kopanye has defected to the All Basotho Convention (ABC) amid indications that more National Executive Committee (NEC) could dump the beleaguered party.

Mr Kopanye defected along with backup singer and RCL chair in Motimposo constituency, Makhetha Nthafa and the deputy chair of the NEC, Kolisang Sekoati.

He confirmed his defection in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, adding, he expected more defections by the faction led by Secretary General, ’Mamolula Ntabe.

“I have defected to ABC after realising that the leader of the (RCL) party (Keketso Rantšo) is not ready to work with us, especially after the court ruling that went in her favour after the Deputy Secretary had called a special conference without the approval rest of the NEC members,” Mr Kopanye said.

“I made a conscious decision that staying in a party where I was not wanted would be a waste of my time and energy hence I joined the ABC after realising its amazing growth and capacity for more growth.

“However, I am not the only one as more party members are contemplating leaving although I am not sure which parties they will be joining.”

He said although she was preaching a united front, the RCL leader, Ms Rantšo had shown that she no longer needed them by failing  to notify them of her imminent return from exile on 12 February along with the ABC leader Thomas Thabane and Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane.

He also said Ms Rantšo had gone on to defy the party members by siding with the deputy secretary who continued to override the decisions made at the last elective conference.

Mr Nthafa and Mr Sekoati also confirmed they had dumped the RCL.

“I am still young and would like to enjoy full participation in politics as well as showcase my talent.

“So I could not just stay in the RCL because Mme Keke has made it very clear that there is no room for us and she has told us that it is her party.

“I willingly chose the ABC because I have always liked it and have seen its potential of delivering economic growth to this country,” Mr Nthafa said.

Mr Sekoati said “I have resigned from the NEC and very soon I shall resign from the party as well”.

“I am just trying to lure those that I recruited into the RCL to leave as well.

“I never thought that the party would become the personal property of the leader and just as I left the Lesotho Congress for Democracy with her before the RCL’s inception, I will also leave her as ‘two wrongs don’t make one right.

“We tried to make peace but it has been impossible and we can’t go against the courts’ ruling hence this decision,” Mr Sekoati said.

A storm has been brewing in the RCL since last October when Ms Ntabe announced exiled party leader Rantšo and deputy leader, Motloheloa Phooko had resigned from their positions fueling speculation of a power struggle in the year-old party.

However, Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko denied the claim, saying it was a ploy to destabilise the party.

Ms Ntabe has been accused of having joined forces with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), of which the RCL is an offshoot – an allegation she has vehemently denied.

Ms Rantšo, Dr Phooko and RCL youth league leader Retšelisitsoe Lesane have been linked to one of the contending factions, while Ms Ntabe and other NEC members are linked to the other.

The feud intensified after the RCL’s Deputy Secretary-General Maseithati Mabeleng tried to by-pass Ms Ntabe by calling for a party conference – which is the latter’s prerogative.

Ms Ntabe responded by lodging a High Court application last November seeking to call off the conference which was thrown out on Thursday 26 January, 2017.

And in the aftermath of the court ruling, Ms Rantšo sought to heal the rift within the party saying although “the courts have spoken, all that I ask is that we all forget what is in the past and focus on the growth and development of the party for the common good of all cadres”.

However, her peace overtures appear to have fallen on deaf ears with the defections.

RCL deputy spokesperson, Rorisang Mokoena this week confirmed the resignation of both Mr Kopanye and Mr Sekoati, telling this publication that “I have learnt that more will be leaving before the end of this week”.

RCL deputy leader, Motloheloa Phooko said “let them go in peace and they should stop talking about this party”.

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