PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is facing a revolt from within his ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
His comrades in the leadership have stopped pretending that they are fighting in his corner.
Realising the colossal crisis he faces, Mosisili has stopped posturing and has begun to admit that his party is edging towards a rancorous split.
The fights have crippled the party, Mosisili said in his address to about 5 000 marchers whose numbers party insiders have since cranked up to “tens of thousands” just to show that the leader still enjoys the people’s support.
“It seems we LCD members don’t consider seriously the smell of death caused by internal splits,” he said.
Ironically Mosisili seems to understand why things have reached this far.
Hunger for power is the reason why the party is heading towards a split barely 12 months before general elections, he said in his speech to the party’s supporters who packed the State House garden.
He is correct but only to an extent.
He makes it sound like being “power hungry” is something evil in politics.
That the majority of politicians are motivated by the pursuit of power is incontrovertible but it is what feeds this “hunger” for power that differs.
In the LCD’s case Mosisili is the reason why genuinely ambitious people have resorted to ambush tactics that are now threatening his grip on power and the party’s future.
Why is that so?
Mosisili has not indicated or at least hinted when he will leave office, an omission that has effectively muzzled an open debate about succession.
His position has not been contested since he became leader in 1997.
With every election we heard the same old-fashioned excuse that the leader’s position is not vacant.
A congress movement culture that views anyone who challenges the leader as a “traitor” has also dissuaded ambitious LCD politicians from openly challenging Mosisili.
Mosisili has not helped matters by skirting the issue.
The anxiety and uncertainty among the ambitious politicians has fed frustrations which have given rise to fierce clandestine jostling for his position.
Unable to discuss the succession issues in the open, politicians have resorted to nocturnal meetings where they cook up dirty schemes.
And because there are many people who really want his position there is bound to be different groupings.
It is these groupings that Mosisili now calls factions and accuses of trying to break the party.
Yet instead of “playing the victim” Mosisili must realise that only he can save his party from the imminent demise.
He can do that by publicly marking the date of his departure on the calendar and then let the party’s search for his successor begin.
That would give him a chance to lead the process.
Or he can declare that he is still interested in staying on but open the contest for the party’s leadership position to anyone interested.
That would mean putting his popularity within the party to test but if he is indeed popular, as his loyalists want us to believe, then he will be able to parry the challengers.
Mosisili must accept that in a democracy a leader’s popularity must be constantly challenged through frequent elections.
As things stand now Mosisili has no internal election victory to prove that he is still popular in the party.
The longer he delays in taking these moves the quicker his party takes giant steps towards a split.
The LCD is badly injured but not mortally so.
Mosisili can still make the right choices and still be in a position to form Lesotho’s next government in 2012 with the LCD intact.
But these choices require will and courage.
Failure to take these bold moves could signal the LCD’s unceremonious exit from government and the abrupt end to his political career.
Time is not on his side.