MASERU — Mosala Mojakisane last weekend easily retained the presidency of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) youth league ending a protracted turf war with bitter rival Selibe Mochoboroane.
The weekend youth league elections at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre clearly illustrated the factionalism rocking the ruling party.
From Saturday night delegates could be seen huddled in small groups, “plotting” how to wrest power from a rival faction.
On Sunday, time and again a faction would spontaneously burst into song every time results were announced.
The LCD has been at pains to play down divisions within the party.
In fact, the party denies the existence of rival camps arguing it is democracy at play.
But if ever one needed proof about this “suppressed” factionalism rocking the party, the weekend events were enough proof!
The tension, the animosity played out on the convention grounds.
And it was ugly.
The nomination list for candidates clearly showed the existence of two factions that have for long been suspected to be vying for control of the party.
On one hand is a faction understood to be led by party secretary-general and Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
Metsing is also the MP for Mahobong constituency in Leribe district.
The other faction is believed to be led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
Both Metsing and Moleleki have in the past vociferously denied leading factions.
Party insiders however insist the two are indeed leading the factions. The songs sung at the conference captured this spirit of the times.
A group allegedly aligned to Moleleki broke into song laden with sarcastic lyrics.
The target of the attack was a rival faction believed to be headed by Metsing.
Although the youths did not mention Metsing by name it was clear the lyrics were targeted at the minister.
Also coming under a barrage of attack was former Taung constituency MP Mpho Malie.
Malie is the chairperson of the LCD elders’ committee, an elite and influential club of party veterans that acts as the party’s think-tank.
The former LCD chairman is also believed to be the godfather of the Metsing faction.
The songs were also targeted at Taung MP Kekeletso Rants’o. Rants’o is the secretary-general of the women’s league.
She is believed to be part of Metsing’s camp.
“Khalema Moetapele, ho tloha Mahobong ho ea tsoa Taung, batho ba ea re tsietsa,” (Our leader, please take action against these people, from Mahobong to Taung.
“They have become a serious problem,” they sang.
In another song, the youths sang: “Helele Bashanyana, lea li bona ketso tsa lona li hlahetse ponts’eng kajeno?
“Khale re le joetsa, malauoa! (Hey, Boys! How does it feel today?
“We told you that someday your clandestine activities would be revealed. How do you feel today?”
As the youth continued singing, senior party officials and several MPs rallied around them while some joined in the song and dance.
The songs were sung every time it was confirmed that a candidate from a faction had won a seat in the committee.
This continued until results for all nine positions that were up for grabs were announced.
The election process began at 2am on Sunday morning.
The elections committee was chaired by National Independent Party (NIP) MP Lineo Molise who is also the home affairs assistant minister.
The election process was carried out in the auditorium where entrance was reserved only for conference delegates.
There were four polling stations each manned by 20 people “to ensure the smooth running of elections,” according to Molise.
By 3pm on Sunday the election results had formed a clear pattern.
Candidates aligned to Moleleki were on the ascendancy.
The faction had clinched positions of president, vice-president, secretary-general and treasurer.
The conference which began on Friday was called to elect a new substantive youth league committee to replace the interim one elected last year.
At the centre of the fight were Mojakisane and Mochoboroane the former LCD youth league secretary-general, who were vying for the presidency.
Mojakisane is an employee at Mohlomi Mental Hospital and Mochoboroane is a Bachelor of Education student at the National University of Lesotho.
On Sunday, Mojakisane easily beat Mochoboroane when he garnered 924 votes against the latter’s 569 votes.
‘Matlotliso Lebajoa, who is an MP for the NIP, secured the vice-presidency when she beat Sechaba Monts’o by 902 to 583 votes.
Lebaka Bulane, a member of the disbanded committee, beat Ntsekiseng Mona to grab the secretary-general’s post.
He garnered 851 votes against the latter’s 588 votes.
Another member of the dissolved committee, Thuso Litjobo, also bounced back when he beat Rorisang Mokoena to claim the youth league’s chairmanship.
Litjobo won 810 votes against Mokoena’s 595.
When the full list of 13 members of the LCD youth committee was announced around 7pm on Sunday, the hall burst into song and dance.
LCD deputy leader Lesao Lehohla appeared unperturbed by the deafening whistling and ululations by delegates.
Lehohla was in attendance to officially confirm the new youth committee and officially close the conference.
The conference had been officially opened by party leader Pakalitha Mosisili on Saturday afternoon.
In his opening address, Mosisili acknowledged the factionalism rocking the party and appealed for unity within the party.
The prime minister said he was aware of the existence of party lists drawn along factional lines.
In his closing remarks on Sunday, Lehohla declared the new committee duly elected and expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the elections had been conducted.
“Now that the youth committee has been elected, it should be afforded the respect it deserves. Whatever differences there were should be cast aside because now we are one,” Lehohla said.
“I am so happy to declare today that we have a new youth committee. But you should note that this is only the beginning, tough times lie ahead of you.”
Lehohla warned the new committee to expect huge challenges over the next three years they will be in office.
“Between now and the time your term expires, there are going to be tumultuous storms especially when we approach general elections,” Lehohla said.
“It is through those storms that we will expect you to be the anchor that keeps the ship afloat as the youth of the ruling party. Do not for a second take for granted the responsibility you have.”
Lehohla appealed to LCD members to “nurture and care for the youth”.
“Let us trust them to see us through difficult times and for the stability of the LCD. Let us respect them while expecting them to respect themselves always,” Lehohla said.