MASERU-Popular Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) stalwart Monyane Moleleki could have paid dearly for his ambitions.
Moleleki lost his seat in the LCD’s National Executive Committee at the conference held over the weekend.
This is the first time that he finds himself out of the LCD national executive since the formation of the party in 1997.
He lost his position as the editor of the party paper Mololi to Motloheloa Phooko by 1068 votes to 632. Moleleki had held the position for the past 10 years.
The position of Mololi editor is crucial in the LCD because it controls the content of the party mouthpiece.
It was a substantial margin that analysts say indicated that the odds and momentum were stuck against him.
And if the events at the LCD’s conference over the weekend are anything to go by then the sun might be setting on the political career on the journalist-cum-politician.
Whether the factions in the LCD exist or not has remained a matter of speculation.
But there was a pattern in the voting trends at the conference which indicated that the people were voting along faction line.
For instance, everyone who was alleged to be aligned to Moleleki was punished through the ballot by the delegates.
Everyone who was alleged to be pro-Mpho Malie won.
All those alleged to be linked to the factions have however vehemently denied the association.
Analysts say Moleleki could have been sunk by his ambition, whether perceived or real, to be the leader of the party.
The battle for the control of the LCD executive committee might have ended with the ballots cast at Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Saturday night but indications are that it started earlier.
As early as last year the battle lines had been drawn.
It started with the infighting in the youth league leadership.
The youth league was subsequently dissolved on October 7 after much counter accusations and attacks in the media.
But if the real reason for their dismissal was not said then, it clearly came out during the conference over the weekend.
The reason, as Mpho Malie the outgoing general secretary said during the conference, was that the youths were pushing an unlawful regime change agenda.
“These youths were unlawfully visiting the constituencies with the aim to create a non-existent vacancy for party leader,” Malie said bluntly.
“Their committee, it was found, worked towards making Mr. Monyane Moleleki the leader,” he said.
“The youth committee spoke ill of the executive committee in the media,” he said.
The agenda of the youth could not have been without merit because for some time Moleleki had been making it clear that although he had no ambitions to lead the LCD he would not be hostile to the idea if he was given the mandate by the people.
An interview with the Lesotho Times in April Moleleki said: “I have no ambition to lead LCD but should the membership bestow such a responsibility upon me, I will gladly accept (the task).”
At that time analysts said he was playing the normal game of congress party politicians of not wanting to be seen as too eager to lead when the incumbent is still around.
Professor Francis Makoa from the National University of Lesotho said the suspicion that each faction wanted to lead the party was mutual.
“It was just mutual suspicion because there was faction in the LCD. These things happen when there are factions,” Makoa said.
“It might happen that the man with whom he was contesting was from a stronger faction.”
“Other than that the position of editor as is in the executive committee is very strategic and probably people have been eying it. Moleleki has been there for too long and people might have wanted some change,” Makoa said.
Moleleki’s response has put paid to pre conference speculation a split was looming in the party.
Speaking to the Lesotho Times after the elections results were announced Moleleki said he was prepared to work with the new executive.
“I am a disciplined member and one of the oldest members of LCD,” he said. “Therefore I humbly accept the verdict of the people and of the conference.”
Moleleki said he was ready to offer support to the newly elected committee.
“I don’t have any difficulty to support this relatively inexperienced committee. As a democrat I believe our party has duty to teach people the importance of accepting verdict of the people,” Moleleki said.
Some observers say it’s too early to rule out the possibility of a come back by Moleleki.
They say he still had a significant power base in the party.
This is not the first fight Moleleki has fought.
In 2006 he battled with Tom Thabane who later left the LCD to form the All Basotho Convention (ABC). He won.
On one occasion the two argued over the radio.