Fireworks expected at LCD special conference

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MASERU — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) will tomorrow finally hold a special conference to decide the fate of its national executive committee amid signs the party’s two warring factions were closing ranks to project an image of unity ahead of the indaba.

The conference, which has been the subject of fierce litigation for almost a year, will confine itself exclusively to two issues: deciding the fate of the party’s national executive committee and filling the position of treasurer following the resignation of former treasurer Popane Lebesa in November 2010.

The conference comes after the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Michael Ramodibedi ruled last December that the LCD executive committee should convene the meeting to discuss the fate of the committee and fill the treasurer’s post.

The conference was called after several party constituencies last year passed a vote of no-confidence in the LCD committee that includes party leader Pakalitha Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla in what was seen as a vivid illustration of the bitter power struggles tearing the ruling party.

The party’s warring factions are believed to be led by secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki respectively.

Both men have in the past denied leading any faction.

But this week, the party was at pains to project an image of unity ahead of the decisive conference.

Senior party figures who spoke to the Lesotho Times said although they expected tough but frank talk at the conference that begins tomorrow, it was important that the party emerges stronger after the conference.

They said although the party will seek to heal itself this won’t happen “before some hard talk”.

A senior official within the pro-Moleleki faction who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press said although it was important for the party to present a united front, the conference would be far from a tea party because “we still need to confront each other”.

“Sparks are bound to fly because we’re not going there to stroke each other’s necks. The conference is a platform for each of the factions to express its grievances,” he said.

The official said the LCD had two options: either disband the executive committee and leave a vacuum or instruct the national executive committee to prepare for the elective conference.

“If we disband the executive committee, it would mean ousting the LCD leader as we will also be cutting his term which ends in 2014. This means there would be a vacuum,” he said.

“That is why I stress that sparks will fly as we try to find common ground.”

The LCD elective conference which was due this month was postponed to make room for the special conference to comply with the Court of Appeal judgment that it be held “before the elective conference”.

The official said they will also need to discuss whether it was wise to push for the filling of the treasurer’s post because the committee’s term of office “is all but over”.

The official said although the party was going through tough times the fact that the two factions had worked hard to make a success of the National Assembly primary elections was “an indication that we long for unity”.

Metsing told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that despite the deep factional divisions within the LCD “we’ve proven that we can still work well together”.

“People have turned a blind eye to the fact that for the first time in the history of the LCD, we are approaching elections without there being a splinter party borne of the disputes,” Metsing said.

“This is an indication that despite our apparent differences, we were able to exercise a high level of tolerance towards one another.”

The LCD secretary general added that the expectation was that the LCD would emerge from the conference stronger.

“We have to emerge from that conference as a united front. The need to hold the conference was the dividing factor between us. There’s no reason why we should still be divided afterwards,” Metsing said.

He said it was important to hold the conference to comply with the Court of Appeal judgment.

“You must note that the Court of Appeal has power over the LCD constitution so there’s need to abide by the law,” Metsing said.

LCD deputy leader, Lesao Lehohla, on Monday said the conference should be able “to heal this rift”.

“It will jolt us back to our senses, remind us that we’re approaching elections and that we should go there as solid as ever,” Lehohla said.

“It will also remind us that we should put our differences aside instead of being our own worst enemy.”

Lehohla added: “I underscore that the LCD should emerge from this conference a coherent political party.”

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