MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is headed for a split with sources saying party leader Pakalitha Mosisili is seriously considering forming a breakaway party.
Sources this week told the Lesotho Times that although Mosisili has been mulling over the idea of a splinter party for some time he was now seriously considering leaving the LCD after the ruling party failed to hold a special conference last weekend.
The special conference which was meant to decide the national executive committee’s fate was abruptly cancelled amid chaotic scenes in which faction members almost came to blows.
Sources said Mosisili has fallen out with the executive committee and now believes that forming a new party was the only way out.
On Tuesday Mosisili unexpectedly fired three ministers who are members of the party’s executive committee.
Mothetjoa Metsing, the party’s secretary general who is said to be leading one of the two factions, was fired as communications minister.
Motloheloa Phooko who is the LCD’s public relations officer was relieved of his role as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Khotso Matla, the editor of the party’s newspaper Mololi, was dismissed as deputy trade minister.
Mosisili did not give reasons for his decision when he fired the three ministers.
But sources said the three were dismissed because they were seen as ringleaders in the faction that is fighting Mosisili.
They are also being blamed for the failed conference, sources said this week.
A top LCD official said many party stalwarts were not shocked by the decision to sack the ministers because they “knew it was always coming”.
They said Mosisili has never seen eye-to-eye with Metsing since his election as the party’s secretary general in 2009.
Matla, the source said, is being punished for his writings in Mololi while Phooko has taken the stick for his role in Saturday’s failed conference.
The Lesotho Times can also reveal that Mosisili has also fallen out with his deputy Lesao Lehohla who is said to be supporting the Metsing-led executive committee.
The Metsing-led faction has come under a withering attack from a faction believed to be led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
Moleleki’s faction has Mosisili’s full support.
The source said the plan at Saturday’s failed conference was to remove the Metsing-led committee and replace it with one that is pro-Moleleki and also friendly to Mosisili.
Mosisili could not hide his frustration with Metsing’s committee when he addressed an impromptu rally at Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Sunday.
He said he wanted to work with men and women he could trust.
The problem now, the source added, is that after the conference failed Metsing’s committee is now likely to lead the party until the next elective conference even though its three-year term has ended.
This has derailed the plan by the Moleleki faction which had hoped that the committee would be out by now, the source said.
“After the plan to remove the committee failed I am now 99 percent sure that Mosisili and Moleleki are going to form a splinter party,” said the source, who has been with the party since its formation 15 years ago.
“Mosisili has lost control of the party’s power structures,” he said, adding that, “it would not be surprising if we have a new party in the next few weeks”.
An MP who is a strong member of the Moleleki faction told the Lesotho Times that they will “unveil the new party on Friday (tomorrow)” if things go according to plan.
He said they were waiting to see if the Metsing faction in parliament will try to push through a vote of “no confidence” against Mosisili today.
He said they have strong suspicions that Metsing’s faction is working with the All Basotho Convention, the biggest opposition party by way of seats, to try and remove Mosisili as Prime Minister.
None of the executive committee members attended Mosisili’s rally on Sunday where he accused the credentials’ committee of sabotaging the special conference even though he is said to be the one who endorsed its appointment.
The source said “the real reason why the credentials committee was being attacked was because they had blocked a plan by Moleleki’s faction to hijack the conference”.
“The committee merely made sure that there were no fake delegates at the conference.”
When asked about the possible formation of a party, a minister who is also a top member of the pro-Moleleki faction said: “When people make it difficult for you to work, what should you do? Don’t you try to find other means of easing the burden?
“Well, I’m not going to say we are not considering forming a party. But at the same time I will not exactly say that we are. We’re just watching the national executive committee’s next move before we can finalise anything,” the minister added.
Metsing said the people had already heard on Sunday “who is forming a new party”.
Analysts see some similarities between Mosisili’s current situation with that of Nstu Mokhehle in 1997 when he formed the LCD after his fallout with the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP).
Mokhehle had been isolated from the BCP national executive committee and was about to be expelled from the party.
He hurriedly formed the LCD which became the government and won the 1998 election under Mosisili.
Since then the party has had two splits which were triggered by internal power struggles.
In 2001 Kelebone Maope, the then deputy leader of the LCD, left to form the Lesotho People’s Congress after a fight with senior party leaders.
Tom Thabane left the LCD in 2006 to form the ABC.