Is the DC headed for a split?

Is the DC headed for a split?

Staff Reporter

MASERU

POLITICAL analysts say squabbles within the Democratic Congress (DC) are a clear sign of a possible split, which might lead to the collapse of the coalition government.

Their chilling assessment comes amid fierce squabbles that have been triggered by succession battles.

In the fracas that has rocked the DC for the past few months are two factions: One that wants party leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to rule on and another that wants him replaced by his deputy, Police Minister Monyane Moleleki.

Those who want Moleleki to take over say Mosisili should leave office in 2018. They are however facing a robust pushback from those who say Mosisili should remain in office.

Mosisili and Moleleki have publicly declared that they are not fighting each other and “nothing will separate us”.

Mosisili told guests at Moleleki’s birthday in January that “those who spread unfortunate news” that he was in a power fight with Moleleki were “misleading others” and were “the agents of the enemy”.

However, what is happening on the ground suggests a party torn apart by factions.

molelekiTwo weeks ago there was a fight at a meeting called by the national executive committee to reconcile the factions, after some came to the talks wearing T-shirts bearing both Mosisili and Moleleki’s pictures.

The national executive committee made another attempt last weekend to reconcile the wrangling sides but another side stormed out of the talks, objecting that some of the facilitators were key members of the opposing faction.

 

Recently a senior member of the LCD which is second in power in the coalition government was taped saying there was evidence that Moleleki was conniving with the opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane to form a government that will unseat Mosisili.

The LCD senior member and the party’s national executive committee have since apologised for the leaked tape, which went viral on Facebook.

The senior member has also been reprimanded by his party. Moleleki has also vehemently rejected the allegations.

Political analysts who spoke to thepost say these events are a sign of a widening crack in the ruling party and warn that unless something is done the party could split. That would put the coalition government in danger, they say.

Professor Kopano Makoa, retired National University of Lesotho (NUL) political science lecturer, says in light of Lesotho’s history of political parties what the DC is going through could end in a huge split.

“Although we cannot rely on history to say the DC is heading for a split, what is happening in it is showing it,” Makoa says.

He recalls that even in the 1960s parties like the Basotho National Party (BNP), Marematlou Party and Freedom Party that later combined to form the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) broke away from the BCP “after quarrels similar to these ones the DC is going through”.

He says the now defunct United Democratic Party, was formed because of the differences its leader the late Charles Mofeli who was in the structures of the BCP “had some minor differences with the BCP leadership”.

In 1972 the National Independent Party (NIP), which is now part of the seven-party coalition government, was formed because its leader had squabbles with the BNP leadership.

Later squabbles similar to the ones the DC is experiencing led to another split of the BCP and Hareeeng Basotho Party was formed.

After the reintroduction of democracy in 1993, which saw the BCP winning all constituencies, a BCP stalwart Bofihla Nkuebe defected to form the Sefate Democratic Union because of his fights with the BCP leadership.

In 1997 the LCD was formed after the BCP leader Ntsu Mokhehle had a major squabble with the party’s executive committee and he defected taking with him the majority of parliamentary seats.

In 2002 LCD Mosisili tussled with his deputy Kelebone Maope who defected to form the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC).

Those who remained in the BCP had their own differences and the leader, Molapo Qhobela, left to form Basutoland African Congress (BAC) which later changed to Basutoland African National Congress after power fights caused a rift between him and the party’s staunch member, Dr Deborah Raditapole.

In the LCD, power fights hit again and Thomas Thabane defected to form the ABC in 2006.

Mosisili found himself cornered in 2012 when he had no supporters in the national executive committee and people were fighting to remove him, which prompted him to leave and form the DC.

All these show that once there is a dispute over leadership political parties split.

“History has spoken,” Makoa says, adding: “The DC is at a critical time and anything can happen any time. There is high possibility of yet another split, especially because the people are fighting for nothing but political power.”

“You can see what happened recently in the BNP. The party has just experienced defection of some people because there were, and still there are, power squabbles,” he says.

Three months ago the BNP split when key members left to form the Democratic Party of Lesotho.

Another lecturer at NUL, Dr Motlamelle Kapa, says “we can expect a split if all key decision makers at the party do not compromise”.

“I don’t want to rely on history but what we are seeing and hearing in the DC can be safely described as a split coming. They must not be shocked because everybody sees it coming, unless if they manage it now through compromises from both sides,” Kapa says.

“If it happens, the government will obviously collapse”.

Nchafatso Sello, an analyst who led the Lesotho civil society for a long time, says “this is a repeat of history”.

“They are handling these squabbles exactly the same way they have been handling the squabbles that led to the splits of parties down the years,” he says.

“I cannot see another ending except the party split if they will continue like this.”

However, the DC general secretary Ralechate ’Mokose told a press conference yesterday that “everything is under control”.

“The national executive committee is managing these differences well. I can assure you that we are in control,” ’Mokose said.

Thomas ThabaneHis deputy Refiloe Litjobo said the DC remains a strong party because its structures are “intact”.

“The structures are not confused.  You can only talk of an imminent split when the structures are in disarray. That is not the case,” Litjobo said.

He said the national executive committee remains committed to “the so-called factions coming together”.

“The leadership of the party wants to give dialogue a chance. We cannot be seen to be resorting to the stick every time there are problems. For now we use the carrot. We believe these issues can be resolved without dragging people to disciplinary hearings.”

“What is important is the unity of the party,” he said.

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