FACTIONLISM continues to plague the Monyane Moleleki-led Alliance of Democrats (AD) amid reports that some party members are already positioning their preferred candidates to take over from the Deputy Prime Minister when he eventually decides to step down from the helm of the second biggest party in the governing coalition.
The names of party spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, secretary general, Mahali Phamotse and Home Affairs Minister, Mokhele Moletsane, once again feature prominently in the party succession debate.
Dr Phamotse and Mr Moletsane, who battled each other for the secretary general’s post last year against Mr Moleleki’s express wishes, are said to be angling for the top job while Mr Litjobo is said to be rooting for deputy leader Professor Ntoi Rapapa to succeed Mr Moleleki.
Mr Moleleki formed the AD in December 2016 in the aftermath of his unsuccessful bid to wrest the leadership of the then ruling Democratic Congress (DC) party from then DC leader and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. Mr Moleleki, who was the DC deputy leader and Minister of Police and Public Safety in the Mosisili government, left the DC with his Lirurubele (butterflies) faction of the party’s national executive committee to form the AD.
However, factionalism quickly reared its head in the AD, prompting Mr Moleleki to plead with Dr Phamotse and Messrs Litjobo and Moletsane not to contest the AD’s secretary general’s post at last year’s inaugural elective conference. This out of fear that their rivalry and the factionalism that it bred could split the party.
Mr Litjobo heeded Mr Moleleki’s call and subsequently contested the spokesperson’s post but this did not stop the bad blood between him and Dr Phamotse which continued into 2019 when the former accused Dr Phamotse of undermining Mr Moleleki and the governing coalition.
The infighting appears to have now taken another twist with reports that the factions are now positioning themselves to take over when Mr Moleleki decided to leave. The allegations of the jostling are contained in a recent leaked audio where prominent outspoken AD activist is heard telling the AD’s secretary general for Machache Constituency, Teboho Chesetsi, that he supports Dr Phamotse to eventually take over from Mr Moleleki.
This after Mr Chesetsi had asked if it was true that he supported Dr Phamotse and was opposed to Mr Moletsane succeeding Mr Moleleki.
Mr Chesetsi also asked if it was true that Dr Phamotse’s followers would oust Mr Moleleki from the party leadership if he supported Mr Moletsane to succeed him.
“Correct me if I am misinterpreting you but I heard that you (Mr Ntakha) saying when the time for us to install Mahali as the leader of AD, you will do that,” Mr Chesetsi is heard saying in the audio.
Mr Ntakha replies by there were no plans to unseat Mr Moleleki and he only supported Dr Phamotse to succeed Mr Moleleki when the latter decided to step down.
“Last year I said that when the time comes ‘M’e Mahali should become a leader. But I have never said I will remove Ntate Moleleki and usher in ‘M’e Mahali as a leader. I have never said that and I will never say that.
“I don’t care whether you record me or not Ntate Chesetsi, I have never said anything that would embarrass me if it gets out to the public. Allow me to repeat myself so that you can understand me. When the time permits for ‘M’e Mahali to become a leader, I will encourage her to become a leader,” Mr Ntakha said.
He also said Mr Moleleki would not be happy if he found out that the Moletsane faction were bragging that they had him in their pocket.
“Do you think Ntate Monyane (Moleleki) would be happy with them saying he (Mr Moleleki) is in their pocket and they are feeding him lies every day and painting Mahali in a bad light? Do you think Ntate Moleleki would be happy with that Ntate Chesetsi?”
Mr Ntakha however, said neither Dr Phamotse nor Mr Moletsane had ever spoken about ousting Mr Moleleki but the talk came from AD supporters in different forums.
In a subsequent interview with the Sunday Express, Mr Litjobo said he was not aware of any factions within the AD.
“I don’t know of any factionalism in the AD. The only thing I know is that there were different slates going into the national executive committee elections last year and those slates died out immediately afterwards. I will have to investigate these allegations but to the best of my knowledge, there is no factionalism within the AD,” Mr Litjobo said.