The options are limited for ‘Fire Extinguishers’

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IT IS becoming abundantly clear to political observers that there is a fierce leadership tussle within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.

The party which has been in power over the past 13 years is facing a leadership crisis behind the scenes.

In Africa, where there is a leadership crisis we often see military coups, particularly in the western parts of the continent.

Some of those coups have been bloody.

Others have been quick and sharp with very little spilling of blood.

The irony with coups is that one day things seem normal only for the rulers to be out of power by nightfall.

In Lesotho things have been quite different.

It has been almost a year now since rumours of a fierce power struggle within the LCD first surfaced.

Two powerful ministers, Mothetjoa Metsing and Monyane Moleleki, are said to be at the centre of the tussle to succeed or push out Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Both Metsing and Moleleki have in the past vociferously denied leading any factions.

Members of the LCD national executive committee had been at pains to dispel rumours of a power struggle within the party.

They told journalists and everyone who cared to listen that nothing of that sort was happening.

It only took a national leadership conference of the ruling party for the truth to come out.

One faction within the LCD is pushing for the national executive committee to be dissolved.

But it is becoming evidently clear that this committee allegedly stuffed by people loyal to Metsing is not going to get the boot unless something dramatic happens.

This article will try and analyse the various scenarios that might play out within the ruling party.

The Fire Extinguishers is a faction said to be headed by Metsing and its members dominate the national executive committee.

It is said to be opposed by the Moleleki faction commonly referred to as the Fire Eaters.

There has been speculation that the Metsing faction might break away and form a splinter party.

This would not be surprising.

We have seen parties being formed towards election times.

It happened in 1997 ahead of the 1998 elections. It also happened in 2001 ahead of the 2002 general election.

It also happened in 2006 a few months before the 2007 general elections.

However the Fire Extinguishers are facing different circumstances than those experienced in previous electoral periods.

The situation just does not favour the formation of a new political party.

The Metsing faction failed to manage its electoral victory the last time out.

It would appear the faction leaders were in a haste to openly declare their political interests before they had formed a strong base with the grassroots.

This, in my opinion, was their undoing.

The formation of a new party does not only need money.

It also needs popularity with the grassroots, charisma and good oratorical skills.

I am not too sure if the Fire Extinguishers have such a charismatic leader within their ranks.

For these reasons prospects of forming a strong, viable party to wrestle power from the LCD looks dim.

The Fire Eaters appear to have an edge in this fight for control of the party.

The Moleleki faction appears to have the advantage of incumbency which gives them an opportunity to use party resources in mobilising constituencies.

Their only challenge is to launch a robust programme of action that will help them regain the membership’s confidence.

Expressing one’s opinion to lead a political party should not be seen as a sin.

The last option for the Fire Extinguishers is to succumb to pressure and extend an olive branch to the president of the party.

As things stand, it appears Mosisili is the only person who is holding the LCD together.

Despite his weaknesses Mosisili remains popular with the grassroots in the villages.

Reconciliation with Mosisili could bring some breathing space to the Fire Extinguishers camp.

The last leadership conference seemed to suggest that the Moleleki faction was driven by a singular pursuit to bury their opponents once and for good, allegedly with the blessing of Mosisili.

The Metsing faction must realise that it would be politically suicidal to fight Mosisili when he still commands tremendous support with the majority of the party’s supporters.

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