MASERU — Voting patterns at last weekend’s ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) special youth league conference showed that there is still simmering discontent over last year’s dissolution of the party’s national youth league executive committee.
The weekend conference held at ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre saw only 690 delegates out of an expected 1 860 attending the official opening ceremony on Saturday.
At least 10 youth league national executive committee members were elected unopposed in what observers said was a strange phenomenon.
Sources within the party’s youth structures said some delegates had restrained from voting at the conference in protest.
They said the delegates were not happy with what they saw as an attempt by the party to impose their own preferred delegates.
The sources said the weekend conference was poorly attended in what came as a surprise for the party.
They said although delegates had slightly increased to around 970 by early Sunday morning the figures were still way below what the party had expected in the run-up to the conference.
But delegates were drawn from 80 constituencies around the country as well as from the South African province Gauteng.
The Free State province failed to turn up.
Delegates from Gauteng completely abstained from the voting process.
Sources said the two South African provinces were bitter with the way the party had handled last year’s youth league leadership wrangle.
However, the Free State province officially said “they did not have youth in their structures”.
Some constituencies also failed to bring in their full complements of delegates. For example, Qacha’s Nek constituency could only bring 16 delegates out of an expected 38.
Qalo constituency failed to turn up for the conference.
Out of the 970 ballot papers that were cast 240 papers were spoiled, according to an official in the elections committee.
The sources said the voting pattern showed there was still simmering discontent within the youth league despite the public show of unity.
Mphosong Member of Parliament (MP), Thapelo Rakhoro, said the conference was a damp squib as it had fallen short of what he expected from LCD conferences.
“It is embarrassing for us to call a conference where almost all nominees are elected unopposed,” Rakhoro said.
Rakhoro, who was among the delegates, said it was unusual for party conferences to have such low turn-outs.
“This clearly shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we handle internal disputes,” Rakhoro said.
He said the party might have succeeded in papering over the differences but it was clear from the voting pattern that there was a problem.
“It is a clear indication that a considerable number of people are not satisfied and that is dangerous to the smooth-running of party affairs,” Rakhoro said.
He said the party should encourage dialogue to clear differences with members of the ousted youth league committee.A member of the youth league who refused to be named said they had refrained from voting to “avoid offending the party’s leadership.”
“We had no option but to advise our followers not to take an active part in the conference,” she said.
She said the new committee that was largely elected unopposed had the blessing of a faction that is currently dominating the party’s national executive committee.
The majority of nominees who had availed themselves withdrew their names in the run-up to the conference.
One of the youth members said they withdrew from the contest to give “the party’s favourites a chance”.
The newly elected youth league members refused to be interviewed this week saying they were still waiting for confirmation by the party’s national executive committee.
Efforts to get comment from the party’s general secretary, Mothetjoa Metsing, were not successful.