By Bongiwe Zihlangu
MASERU — Senkatana leader Lehlohonolo Tséhlana on Wednesday said his party could hold its elective conference for the national executive committee in January next year.
“In January we plan to hold our first annual general meeting whereby we will conduct a post-mortem of our party’s successes and failures since its establishment.
“There is a likelihood that we will throw into the mix a motion to elect our permanent national executive committee,” Tséhlana said.
Tsehlana’s Senkantana broke away from the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) party in October last year.
But a year after the acrimonious divorce, the new baby has failed to stamp its mark on Lesotho’s political scene, according to observers.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, ABC youth league president, Libe Moremoholo, said Senkatana had dismally failed to rise to the occasion.
Moremoholo said the party had made numerous promises after its launch last October but had failed to fulfil any of those promises.
“Senkatana has proved to be a huge disappointment. A year down the line there is no noticeable progress within the party. They promised to hold a policy conference in April but it fell through,” Moremoholo said.
“They said by June this year they would hold their first conference to elect a national executive committee. But that too has not materialised.”
He said the party had no visibility on the ground.
“Again, you don’t see the party holding any political rallies. That goes to show that the party’s membership is dismal, if there is any at all,” he said.
Moremoholo said it was becoming clear after a year that Senkatana was struggling to find a niche in Lesotho’s politics.
A furious Tséhlana said it was not true that Senkatana was not active on the ground. He said the party was preparing to register with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to contest the 2010 local government elections.
“We are soon going to register with the IEC for the 2010 local government elections. That is where we will be able to prove our worth and leave our critics eating humble pie,” Tséhlana said.
He said there was nothing to be gained from holding huge rallies to impress people without building strong party structures on the ground.
“We are not inspired by open rallies. We are interested in holding closed meetings targeted at building our political party.
“We are more interested in teaching people the value of progressive politics instead of making unnecessary noise at political rallies,” Tséhlana said.
He said Senkatana had initially planned to hold the party’s elective conference in June but postponed the event to allow the party “to build proper structures on the ground”.
“We realised that we must first build proper and healthy structures — sub-branch, branch, constituency and district committees before we could even think of electing a national executive committee,” Tséhlana said.
He said his party had mistakenly thought they could build party structures quickly to allow the holding of an elective national conference.
Tséhlana said his party had garnered enough support around the districts to “establish healthy party structures there”.
“We have support in constituencies such as Lithoteng, Mokhotlong, Maseru Central, Motimposo, Mphosong, Maputsoe, Rothe, Likhoele, Matlakeng and Mabote.”
The Senkantana boss was however modest in his expectations for the 2012 general elections.
Tséhlana said his party did not have enough muscle yet to assume office in 2012.
“In 2012 we may not be in government. But we will have to work towards having no less than five parliamentary seats under our belt. That will in itself afford us the chance to participate fiercely as the opposition in parliament,” Tséhlana said.
Tséhlana said in politics opposition is not necessarily defined by the number of seats a party has in parliament.
“One should carefully note that strong opposition in not defined by the number of seats a party garners but by the quality of people representing it in the national assembly,” Tséhlana said.
Senkatana is however still not registered with the IEC after it failed to submit 515 members registered with the electoral commission as voters.
Tséhlana said the party had finally managed to raise the required number of members to allow for the registration with the IEC.
“We finally have the required number of supporters to qualify us to register,” Tséhlana said.