MASERU — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party has failed to unveil its local government elections manifesto owing to internal wrangles, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
The elections are scheduled for next Saturday.
LCD deputy leader Lesao Lehohla on Tuesday confirmed that the party was still working on the manifesto for the elections.
Pressed how the party could go into elections without a manifesto Lehohla argued that “the previous election manifesto is still relevant”.
“That particular manifesto addresses among others the construction of roads and the broadening of telecommunications,” Lehohla said.
But a member of the party’s youth league, Molebatseng Makhata, said the failure to prepare the manifesto was a clear sign that all was not well within the ruling party.
The LCD is currently torn apart by fierce infighting between two factions jostling to control the party.
LCD secretary general Mothetjoa Metsing is said to be leading a faction that is battling to control the party against a rival faction said to be led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
The two have however denied leading any factions.
Makhata, who was an ex-officio member of the LCD youth committee that was disbanded in 2008 for alleged insubordination, said the party had lost its focus.
She said this was the first time that the LCD was going into an election without a campaign manifesto.
She blamed the crisis on Metsing whom she accused of dragging his feet to make the LCD “lose out to the opposition”.
“Less than two weeks before local government elections, the party does not have a manifesto. Ntate Metsing is setting us up to lose out to the opposition,” Makhate said.
“As the LCD, our culture is to campaign using our manifesto which we present to party followers in the form of rallies, but there have been no such rallies organised by the secretary general (Metsing),” she added.
She said for party leader Pakalitha Mosisili to be able to attend these rallies his campaign schedule has to be prepared by the secretary general’s office.
“The leader’s rallies have to be organised by the executive committee under the directive of the secretary general, in the form of circulars sent to LCD constituencies nationwide,” Makhata said.
“The secretary general is bound by the constitution to act as the backbone of the party and to coordinate communication between the headquarters and LCD constituencies but he has not been doing that.”
Makhata said despite Metsing being the party’s representative at the Independent Electoral Commission meetings held to prepare the local government elections the minister had failed to “report back to the party”.
“He does not disseminate vital information despite him being the one attending all those important meetings,” Makhata said.
“To me this is a clear indication that he wants the LCD to fail in these elections. He is setting us up for a fall, for the LCD to be trampled on by the opposition.”
Attempts to contact Metsing on Tuesday failed as his phone went unanswered.
But Lehohla said “the youths have lost the plot”.
He said there were better platforms within the party that the youths could use to address their grievances.
“They should not have run to the streets because by so doing they create problems for the party,” he said referring to last week’s rowdy protest at the party’s headquarters.
“By using the relevant platforms to state their case, they could have actually realised that they also had the chance to contribute to the formulation of the manifesto.”
Lehohla however said despite the youths’ “unconventional” behaviour, he could relate to them because at their age “their judgment is driven more by adrenaline than logic”.
“They are still growing hence the level of adrenaline in them. They don’t take time to think issues through. One can’t be angry with them. They simply need to learn to take full stock of the facts,” Lehohla said.
LCD youth league president Mosala Mojakisane told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that they were also “very worried” by the party’s failure to come up with a manifesto for the election.
“But it’s out of our hands”.
“Worried as we might be by this situation, there’s not much we can do. As the youth league we have neither the power nor authority to formulate the local elections manifesto,” Mojakisane said.
“However, our responsibility as the youth committee is to present the youths’ concerns to the executive committee and hope they will be dealt with.”
According to Mojakisane, a political party participating in elections must have a manifesto that addresses key issues specific to that particular poll.
“Just like previous local government elections in 2005 which had a specific manifesto addressing issues at the time, the same should apply in 2011,” Mojakisane said.
The LCD youth league leader added that the executive committee could have “delayed” releasing the manifesto because it had a lot on its plate.
“Maybe delaying to issue a written document addressing these elections was just an error on the committee’s part. I know the committee was working on a manifesto,” Mojakisane said.