THE ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) had to call off committee elections for the Lithabaneng #36 constituency early this week after bloody clashes among rival factions left four supporters needing medical treatment.
During the skirmishes, the ABC legislator for the Lithabaneng #36 constituency who is also the Social Development Minister, ‘Matebatso Doti, had to be whisked away to safety by her bodyguards.
The police had to intervene after the rival party members attacked each other with knives and screw drivers.
One of the aspiring candidates, Montoeli Masoetsa, allegedly pulled out a gun during the clashes leading to the abandonment of the polls.
Police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, confirmed that there were clashes but said the police would act on the basis of cases reported to them.
“The police were there to ensure there was order and they immediately dispersed people once violence erupted,” Supt Mopeli said.
“It is true some people were injured but the affected should file charges so that we can help them.”
Ms Doti this week told the Lesotho Times that she “was deeply disturbed” by the violence and she had to take some time off work as a result.
The constituency is reportedly divided along factional lines with one faction backing Ms Doti and another backing Mr Masoetsa.
Mr Masoetsa was beaten by Ms Doti in last year’s primary polls to choose the party’s candidate for the 3 June 2017 snap elections.
The outgoing constituency secretary, Rethabile Rathebane, said the problems in the constituency started in May last year after Ms Doti defeated Mr Masoetsa to earn the right to represent the party in the June 2017 national elections.
Mr Rathebane said after the loss, Mr Masoetsa has been on a mission to dislodge Ms Doti by frustrating her and her supporters at every turn.
“We were supposed to hold the elections on 18 February this year in the presence of the National Executive Committee (NEC) officials but because they had other commitments, we had to postpone to 25 February and subsequently to 4 March.
“Unfortunately on 4 March, the police had to disperse the gathering due to the fight fuelled by Ntate Masoetsa and his supporters,” Mr Rathebane said.
He said that Mr Masoetsa only enjoyed the support of just two out of the constituency’s 12 branches and these caused the chaos at the Sunday meeting.
“The two branches said they did not trust the NEC representatives who were sent to the meeting. The ring-leader, Ntate Masoetsa, fuelled the argument until it got out of hand and then he pulled out his gun and chased us away,” Mr Rathebane said.
Mr Masoetsa said that he was not at liberty to comment on the matter and referred the Lesotho Times to the outgoing constituency chairperson, Thabang Shai, who also refused to comment.
However, ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, said the NEC would soon meet to discuss the matter.
“It is clear that there are those who intend to cause problems within the constituency so the NEC will soon meet to discuss the matter. However, we expect the police to act on the criminals that caused the commotion and injured others,” Mr Mapesela said.