The AD’s Achilles’ heel

The AD’s Achilles’ heel

ON January 7, 2017, the Alliance of Democrats (AD) delegates from all the 80 constituencies gathered at the Lesotho High School hall to unveil and inaugurate the party constitution and an interim committee. At that maiden conference, the thorn in the side of some delegates was the nomination of Hon. Mokhele Moletsane as the Secretary General (SG) of the new party. The delegates were divided as some felt Hon. Moletsane was too young to hold such an esteemed office, but other delegates were adamant that his age was appropriate as he could sway the youth to join the party in hordes.

In December 2017, the AD was rocked by letters pushing for the removal of the National Executive Committee (NEC). The main target of those letters from the constituencies was the SG.
The people complained about what they called described as lack of transparency by the office of the SG regarding the deployment of ministers, deputy ministers, Senate appointments and other political appointees like diplomats.

There were also complaints that the SG had side-lined certain individuals when he drafted the proportional representation list.
Elections were subsequently held in March 2018 and a new committee was elected. During the build up to this elective conference, the post that was fiercely contested was that of SG. You would swear there were no other positions in the party structures.

The leader of the party himself intervened and asked some people to withdraw from contesting that position but his efforts came to naught.
And last week Thursday, hardly six months since the election of the NEC, there was chaos at the Alliance of Democrats offices. Some of its disgruntled members burned furniture in their bid to petition the secretary general, Dr Mahali Phamotse, who is also minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation.
The crux of the petition was that the secretary general is sabotaging the party and its members when it comes to allocation of jobs. They claim the SG favours people from Leribe and those who are not AD members.

They cite the case of the daughter of Democratic Congress (DC) MP who was hired at the ministry despite having many educated AD members who could have been allocated that position.
The placards held by protesters had messages ranging from “Mahali must fall” to “Mahali ke sebolu” (meaning Mahali is corrupt). The angry mob said they had been spurred into action by what they term “expulsion” of the party members from the ministry.

In an interview with a local radio station, Dr Phamotse professed ignorance on the expulsion of AD members but indicated that they have been served with letters to “show-cause” as to why they cannot be summoned for a disciplinary hearing regarding their conduct at work.

The leader of the party, who is also the Deputy Prime-Minister Hon. Monyane Moleleki, held a meeting in an endeavour to put out the flames on Sunday 23 September at the party headquarters. It is at this meeting where he explained the extent of the damage that the protesters have caused on the party’s property.

He also emphasised that political appointees that do not abide by the contracts of their appointments will indeed face the consequences.
The chaos that took place on Thursday comes at a time when the party is preparing for a leadership conference that will be held in Thaba Tseka on the weekend of September 28, 2018.
This is conference that mandated, among other matters, to review the progress of the party with the aim of devising new strategies that will assist in the growth of the party. Among issues that have haunted the AD is the deployment of political cadres.

Section 5.2.4 of the AD constitution deals with appointing powers. In simple terms it says the National Executive Committee will have the following powers: (a) to advise the leader on the appointment, expulsion and reshuffle of ministers, deputy ministers and all other political appointees. Additionally, section 5.3.3 deals with the duty and responsibility of the SG (f) to employ and to retrench workers after consultation with the NEC.

There is nowhere in the constitution where the office of the SG can on its own employ or retrench employees. As such it is confusing for those of us watching from the outside when members of the party accuse the SG, not the NEC, for what they term deployment that lacks transparency.
The fight against the office of SG seems to be the AD’s Achilles’ heel and the sooner the party realises this and cleans its house the better.
It is also imperative to note that the AD is the second largest party in the coalition government and if they cannot keep their house in order that might affect the government.
The situation looks precarious already.

A few weeks ago, it was the ABC that was battling with disputes and unruly behaviour from members. Last week it was the AD. These problems need not lead to the collapse of the government because they are clearly surmountable.

The AD NEC should utilise the leadership conference this coming weekend as a platform for teaching members the duties and responsibilities of the office bearers. The party should also look into harmonising the sections of the constitution that seem to be confusing.
The NEC should also ensure that the Constitution is available to all its members. Like I said, the AD problems affects the stability of the current coalition government and as a concerned Mosotho I would not like to see anything that could further derail the already overdue national reforms.

By:  Kelello Rakolobe

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