Metsing loses big funder

Metsing loses big funder

MASERU- IN a clear case of deepening trouble, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has lost one of its major funders. Bothata Mahlala, the businessman some refer to as the LCD’s banker, is leaving the beleaguered former ruling party to join the Democratic Congress (DC).

Mahlala has been one of LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing’s closest confidants.
In recent years, the LCD has relied heavily on Mahlala’s financial muscle and fundraising skills.

Party insiders told thepost that he occasionally bailed out the party using his own money or what is raised from his deep-pocketed contacts.
For the 2015 election campaign Mahlala raised M3 million for the party and donated 20 000 T-shirts.

In the 2017 election he raised more than M4 million for the party, including from dozens of funders who were ready to dump the party.
It is because of Mahlala that money flowed into the LCD coffers from funders in Lesotho and South Africa.

Mahlala would take Metsing along with him to meet potential funders, several LCD sources said this week. “No one brought in more money than Mahlala. If he is leaving it means we will face a serious financial problem,” said a senior LCD official.

So crucial was Mahlala’s fundraising expertise that some LCD members had nominated him to become the party’s treasurer.

On Tuesday the LCD’s deputy spokesperson, Apesi Ratšele, said the party was making frantic efforts to persuade Mahlala to change his mind. He said they have since sent an emissary to Mahlala who however told thepost that his decision is final.

“They are sending people to me but I can’t undo my decision. That will not happen,” Mahlala said.

He said he was leaving the party because he feels it has been “captured by its incompetent leaders who don’t want to leave even when it’s clear that they have dismally failed to revive its fortunes”.

He said he doesn’t want to “sweat for nothing like a dog”.
“I am not going to be running around sweating for no benefit. I am not a dog.”

“There is no point in remaining in a party that is declining and whose leaders don’t want to listen to those who have ideas on how to grow it.”
Mahlala said his decision should not surprise anyone because he had warned that he will leave the party if things don’t change.

Mahlala said what angers him the most is that the LCD’s national executive committee (NEC), elected in 2015, remains in office nearly two years after its term ended.

“And there are no indications as to when the new committee will be elected.”
He said he noticed that the committee was reluctant to leave in 2017 when Metsing and his deputy, Tšeliso Mokhosi, went into self-imposed exile after claiming that their lives were in danger.

He said a few months after Metsing and Mokhosi arrived in South Africa the LCD held a conference in Wepener, a small farming South African town near Mafeteng. At that conference, he explained, Metsing said the party could not hold an elective conference when its leaders are in exile.

Matlala said although that seemed to make sense to other people he was not convinced that this was “reason enough to violate the party’s constitution”. He said it was clear that the leader was using the “exile issue” to protect Mokhosi. My reasoning at that time, he said, was that we cannot violate the constitution to protect one man.

“It’s clear that the leader was protecting Mokhosi because his own position was not going to be contested.”

He said since then the leadership has come up with new excuses to avoid an elective conference.

When Metsing and Mokhosi came back in November last year they said there was no money to organise the conference.

“That shocked me because the same committee was supposed to raise money for the elective conference. They were elected at a conference organised by funds raised by the previous committee yet they say they have no money. It was their job to find the money,” Mahlala said.

He said the committee has a habit of creating problems they then use them to justify their illegal stay in office.

In January this year the committee said the elective conference could not happen because supporters in the constituencies have not renewed their membership.

“That registration process was postponed to March, then April, then May and then June. So the same people who are supposed to ensure that supporters renewed their membership are now saying they cannot have a conference because supporters have not renewed their membership. It doesn’t make sense at all.”
“You can see again that the committee is benefiting from its incompetence and chaos.”

The latest excuse, which Mahlala still sees as an attempt to hang on to power through chicanery, is that most of the constituencies don’t have committees.
“We don’t have constituency committees because the NEC has not done its job. But the same NEC now says it cannot have a conference because of the same problem they caused.”

“We cannot have people benefiting from their own incompetence and problems they deliberately created.” Mahlala had no kind words for Metsing, whom he accused of interfering in the democratic process of the party to protect his deputy.

To illustrate this he narrated what happened to Lebohang Thotanyana, his former LCD colleague, when he was nominated to be the deputy leader.
He said Thotanyana, who recently left to join Professor Nqosa Mahao’s faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), received a call from Metsing “who said he doesn’t want him to be the deputy leader”.

“I started wondering whether the leader has forgotten that the people, not him, have the power to decide who holds what position in the party.”

Thotanyana has confirmed that he received such a call from Metsing. He too left the LCD after he fell out with the Metsing, whom he accused of protecting what he called “an inept but power-hungry committee”.

Thotanyana, like Mahlala, was one of Metsing’s closest allies in the party.
That the two have left the party could be a sign that Metsing’s circle of friends in the LCD is shrinking fast. Mahlala is leaving with the LCD’s constituency committee in Mount Moorosi, his home area.

He said there are clear signs that the LCD is haemorrhaging support.
The crowds at the party’s recent rallies are laughable, he added.
“It is common that when the crowds are small a party takes pictures from some angles to give an impression that the rally was well-attended. But now the crowds at the LCD’s rallies are so small that they cannot even play those tricks with pictures.”

“So you have a party that is declining and a leadership that blocks anyone who wants to suggest ways to grow it. I am done with such a party.”
Mahlala’s defection to the DC could not have come at a more gloomy time for Metsing.

Over the past few weeks relations between the LCD and the CD have soured because of tensions between Metsing and Mothibeli Mokhothu.

Metsing sees Mokhothu as a jumped up novice who should not have replaced former DC leader Pakalitha Mosisili. Mokhothu worries that Metsing is encroaching into his turf because his party is flagging.

He also accuses Metsing of peddling himself as a leader of the entire congress movement when his party doesn’t have the numbers.

The sting in Mahlala’s decision to join the DC is quite obvious. The LCD is losing its biggest moneyman to the DC. (See the two boxes for what some LCD are saying about Mahlala’s exit)

Staff Reporter

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