MASERU — Yesterday’s reshuffle of five cabinet ministers is a reflection of the ongoing factional fights in the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD).
Although the battle for the soul of the LCD started much earlier sources close to the party say the factions became more pronounced in 2008 when a plan was allegedly hitched to dissolve the youth committee that had been elected a year and two months earlier.
Thereafter, sources say, the battle intensified.
The new youth league was seen as pro-Monyane Moleleki, the natural resources minister who has consistently denied that he belongs to any faction.
After a tussle the committee was disbanded in October 2008 after being accused of insubordination and disrespecting the party leadership.
In January last year, three months after the youth committee was disbanded, Moleleki’s faction suffered heavy defeats at the hands of the faction led by Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing who was elected secretary general.
Popane Lebesa, who was the trade minister until yesterday afternoon, was elected party treasurer.
Lebohang Nts’inyi, whose reign as the tourism minister ended abruptly yesterday, became the deputy secretary general.
These two together with almost all the other committee members formed the core of the pro-Metsing faction, numerous sources in the party say.
All those people that were perceived to be pro-Moleleki lost the election. Moleleki himself failed to make it into the committee for the first time since 1997 and for once it seemed that his faction was dead and buried.
And when an interim youth committee with a more pro-Metsing-outlook took over the operations of the youth league four months later it seemed that the Moleleki faction was all but finished.
Then came the letter that was allegedly written by the LCD youth calling for Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to reshuffle cabinet and fire some ministers. Moleleki’s name was among those mentioned in the letter as well as other ministers.
At that time sources said this was a plan by the executive committee to ratchet up pressure on the Moleleki faction through the youth league.
The letter did not get the desired outcome. It however created a split in the youth league and allegiances were immediately shifted.
Things however started looking up, at least publicly, for the Moleleki faction when its protégés won by a landslide at the youth league’s elective conference on September 29.
Soon after that victory a member of the faction told the Lesotho Times that they were now going to “shake things up in the executive committee”.
Highly placed sources told the Lesotho Times three weeks ago that the real fallout between Mosisili and the Metsing-led faction took place at a recent stormy meeting where tempers are alleged to have flared.
It is understood that Mosisili is said to have had a heated argument with the former trade minister and ex-secretary general of the LCD Mpho Malie.
It is understood that Metsing, Nts’inyi and Lebesa sided with Malie.
This, the source added, angered Mosisili.
Yesterday Nts’inyi and Lebesa met their comeuppance when they were fired.
They are now mere proportional representation MPs.
It is understood that soon after the September youth committee elections, the Moleleki faction managed to lobby the support of more than 35 LCD constituencies to file for a motion of no confidence against members of the executive committee.
By September 29 over 35 letters had reached the LCD office petitioning for the dissolution of the supreme committee for alleged insubordination and incompetence.
Constituencies such as Kolonyama, Hololo, Maputsoe, Hlotse and Semena are said to have raised concerns that the LCD executive committee, through its secretary-general, failed to keep constituencies updated on developments regarding the attempted assassination of Mosisili in April last year.
They complained that the committee’s conduct regarding this matter showed “it does not care about the well-being of the leader”.
They also complain that although the committee accepted the letter allegedly penned by LCD youths demanding that Mosisili reshuffle cabinet last year, it was noted that Metsing denied any knowledge of the letter at the party leadership conference last year “although he received it on the leader’s behalf”.
In the petitions the constituencies also requested that an emergency congress be called to officially dissolve the committee and appoint an interim committee to make preparations for fresh elections.
The petitions, as the LCD constitution dictates, are supposed to be dealt with only if they have been with the office of the secretary-general for 14 days without any attempt to withdraw them.
The LCD executive committee is therefore expected to meet today to discuss the way forward regarding the petitions and whether the issues they address justify the drastic move to dissolve the committee.