MASERU — An elective conference for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party’s Stadium Area constituency youth committee was aborted on Sunday after protests from some delegates.
The conference was called to elect a new constituency youth committee.
But delegates sharply differed on the legality of the conference resulting in the meeting being cancelled in a fresh demonstration of the factionalism rocking the party.
The conference at the Maseru Lesotho Evangelical Church Primary School had barely started when some delegates complained that it had been improperly convened.
The Lesotho Times witnessed the saga that started immediately after the opening prayer.
The constituency’s youth chairman Lekhotla Mats’aba had called Thuso Litjobo, the national youth committee chairman, when delegates raised a point of order.
The delegates said the committee had not followed procedure when they convened the conference.
They said the committee had not informed the constituency committee about the conference on time.
LCD regulations say the youth committee is supposed to give the constituency committee at least two weeks’ notice before convening an elective conference.
Constituency committee chairman Motlatsi Molise said the youth committee had only submitted a letter to his committee three days before the conference.
He said his committee had not had a chance to discuss the letter and make a decision on the request.
“I heard about the letter written to the (constituency) committee only on Friday. We were supposed to meet today (Sunday) as a committee,” Molise said.
“I cannot make a decision regarding what should happen now. It is up to the conference to decide if the elections should continue or not.
“But while you’re at it note carefully what I have said, that the constituency committee had not yet made a decision on the youth committee’s request to have an elective conference.”
Rorisang Mokoena, the former chairman of the national youth league committee, questioned the presence of officials from the national youth committee.
Mats’aba explained that Litjobo and national youth league spokesperson Mpaballeng Motjetjepa had been invited to observe the election.
But Mokoena was not convinced.
He said Litjobo and Motjetjepa were not needed at the conference “because we have not indicated that we have problems”.
“Members of the national youth committee can only be invited to observe elections in the event that there are problems,” Mokoena charged.
Mokoena’s group continued to protest every time Mats’aba tried to call Litjobo back to the podium.
They would either raise a “point of order” or break into song.
As the chaos persisted a young delegate from the Moshoeshoe II branch, Limpho Rammina, leapt up and took the floor.
“It boggles the mind why Ntate Mokoena and his colleagues are opposed to Ntate Litjobo addressing this meeting,” Rammina charged.
“The question that comes to one’s mind is “why”. What is it that they think Litjobo will say. What truths are they scared will be revealed if he’s given the chance to talk?”
Mats’aba also got resistance from members of his own committee.
Particularly hostile were the treasurer Mahali Makhanya and deputy-chairman Nthabeleng Maime.
Eventually Motjetjepa and Litjobo took charge and ordered delegates willing to participate in the election “to go into the room next door”.
Mokoena’s group walked out of the room but continued singing.
Their songs called on the Mats’aba, Motjetjepa and Litjobo group to leave the current committee in place.
After half an hour Mats’aba called everyone back into the initial venue of the event and told the delegates that they had decided to postpone the conference.
“We have decided not to continue with the elections and have left the matter in the hands of the national youth committee to take it up with the senior committees,” Mats’aba said.
More chaos ensued when Mats’aba called Litjobo to make the closing address.
As Litjobo started talking Makhanya began singing.
More delegates joined in and Litjobo’s words were drowned in the noise.
He gave up.
Delegates started streaming out of the hall.
The constituency’s youth committee secretary-general Mangaliso Makakole told this paper on Tuesday that Mokoena and his faction had disrupted the meeting because they feared losing the election.
“They knew that they were going to be thrashed,” Makakole said.
“They realised that they were seriously out-numbered and resorted to mischief.”
Apparently Mats’aba’s committee seemed to have anticipated this reaction from Mokoena and company.
In their letter to the constituency committee Mats’aba’s committee had requested special observers from the national youth committee.
The letter said the committee had decided to request observers because Mokoena and four other youth members had disrupted an earlier meeting.
Mokoena and company, the letter said, had verbally attacked Health Minister and Senator Mphu Ramatlapeng who had attended the closed meeting.
Mokoena and his group had told Ramatlapeng to get out of the meeting, the letter alleged.
The letter alleged that Molise did not protect Ramatlapeng.
It said former tourism minister Lebohang Nts’inyi who was in the meeting also failed to intervene when Mokoena and his group lashed out at Ramatlapeng.
Nts’inyi is the current deputy secretary general of the LCD national executive committee.