MFP leadership battle intensifies

MFP leadership battle intensifies

MASERU – THE battle to control the Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) has intensified, amid revelations that a faction opposed to leader Vincent Malebo will have an elective conference over the weekend to push him out.

Malebo, 86, has however said he will not attend the conference because it is illegal.
Tlhoriso Lekatsa, who leads the anti-Malebo faction, told thepost that a new leader and the national executive committee (NEC) will be elected at the conference.
The two-day conference will also amend the party’s constitution which Lekatsa says “is old and is no longer responsive to the contemporary issues of governance.”
The MFP is using a constitution written in 1974 when Malebo was 43. Lekatsa said some committee members have since left to join other parties.
He said Malebo is “walking alone” because the remaining committee members support the conference.

The conference, Lekatsa said, will also look at how Malebo got the party’s only Proportional Representation (PR) seat in parliament.
The Lekatsa-led faction failed to convince the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to reject a list of PR nominees Malebo submitted before the June 3 election.
The faction had argued that Malebo had not consulted the executive committee when he submitted the list on which his name was top and guaranteed that he gets the party’s seat.
Earlier the faction had filed a High Court case challenging Malebo’s leadership.

But despite the pending case Malebo submitted the PR list.
Lekatsa said the party is still trying to convince the IEC to rescind Malebo’s appointment. “The leader of the party should not appear on the PR list but should work hard to ensure he wins a constituency,” Lekatsa said.

He said the conference will set an age-limit for the party leader.
“Some of us hold a strong view that the party leader should not be above 65 years.”
He further said he believes that his faction is now violating the party’s constitution by organizing the conference.
The conference, he explained, will be held in accordance with section 20 of the party’s constitution which states that the NEC shall, subject to the control and direction of the conference, be the administrative authority of the party.

“We are ready to hold this conference. Our members countrywide will be coming to Ha-’Mamathe (conference venue) in buses and taxis.”
However, Malebo said he will remain the MFP leader until the court has decided otherwise.

He said the conference this weekend organised by his rivals “is only meant to further divisions within the party”.
Malebo said they were supposed to have the general conference before the June 3 national election but could not do so because they were busy with the campaign.
“The conference is not for MFP but for Lekatsa and those behind him. I won’t attend that conference because it is illegal,” Malebo said.
Malebo said section 12 of the party’s constitution says the party conference shall meet once a year. He said a 90-day notice should be given before the conference is held.
“The work of the party shall be subject to the control and direction of the party conference which shall be governed by the constitution of the party and any regulations which may be made from time to time,” Malebo said.

“In cases of disputes the conference shall be the final authority, and its decisions shall not be questioned.”
Malebo also alleged that the Lekatsa’s faction has confiscated the party’s car, buildings and some cash.
“The faction wants to defect to other parties,” he said.

“They used the party’s resources to canvass against the party. We have seen that they are already moving with other parties.”
Founded in 1962, the MFP was a result of a merger between the Freedom Party and the Marematlou Party.
Although it is one of the oldest parties in Lesotho, the MFP has never won more than 10 000 votes in an election.
A split might push it further to the fringes of Lesotho’s congested political landscape.

Majara Molupe

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