MASERU — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party will hold an elective conference in January.
In a circular sent to constituencies on Thursday, Mothetjoa Metsing, the party’s secretary general said under the party’s constitution it was mandatory to hold the elective conference every three years.
“The general elective conference of the LCD should be held once every three years either in December or January,” Metsing wrote.
“It has now been three years ending in December since we last had an elective conference. This means the time has now come to call the conference.
“The executive committee has decided it should be on January 27-29,” Metsing wrote.
He said the names of candidates who would have been nominated at the constituency level to contest the executive committee elections should be submitted to his office by the end of this month.
“The names are expected to reach the office of the secretary general not later than November 30 2011,” Metsing said in the circular.
Metsing also indicated that the executive committee was already in the process of holding primary elections to select candidates for the National Assembly elections next year.
The decision to call the conference could see a stepping up of the fights between the two rival factions battling to control the party.
The LCD is split along factional lines with a one faction backing Metsing while the other faction is rallying behind Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
Metsing and Moleleki have however denied leading any factions.
The elective conference in January could see the two factions battling for control of the ruling party ahead of key elections later in March.
Analysts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week said the current national executive committee, which is believed to be aligned to Metsing, could use the power of incumbency to seek to bury the Moleleki faction at the conference.
Last year in September, 26 constituencies aligned to the Moleleki faction petitioned the LCD executive committee asking it to call a special conference.
The constituencies wanted to use the conference to oust the executive committee, except party leader Pakalitha Mosisili and his deputy Lesao Lehohla, on grounds of incompetence.
In January, five members of the LCD dragged the committee to court to block the special conference on the grounds that it was discriminatory to spare some members of the committee.
In March the High Court ruled that the LCD should not hold the special conference. Another 17 constituencies then filed a fresh application calling for the disbandment of the entire national executive committee.
The application is still pending in the Court of Appeal and will be heard on December 8.
Lira Theko, president of the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), said the conference will pave the way forward and provide the LCD factions with options.
“This elective conference will determine once and for all how the factions should deal with the tear. They will decide whether they want to mend it or force it to split,” Theko said.
Development for Peace Education (DPE) director, Sofonea Shale, said LCD members should be happy now that the committee has called a conference because “this was what they had been calling for”.
“The only difference is that they wanted a conference earlier than normal. But the fact of the matter is that it’s what they have been waiting for,” Shale noted.
Dr Motlamelle Kapa, a political science lecturer at the National University of Lesotho said it was too early to read which faction might end up victorious.
“If the court decides that there should be a special conference and the executive committee is disbanded, Moleleki’s faction will have an edge. If things remain the same, Metsing’s faction remains at an advantage,” Kapa said.
“When you have power, you will be in a position to decide who goes to the elective conference as a delegate and who is suitable in your view to contest the 2012 elections in the name of the LCD.”
Kapa, who has authored the book, Politics of Coalition in Lesotho, adds that whoever takes control of the LCD executive committee in January will still have to fight to stay on top.
“They will still have to battle it out at the constituencies although the incumbent will definitely enjoy the fruits of the incumbency,” he said.
“Here we are talking about factions that both want to control the executive committee of the LCD, who are fighting to win in the name of the LCD.”