- accuses the party of being undemocratic
FORMER Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) stalwart and businessman Bothata Mahlala says he deserted the party because of its failure to uphold its founding democratic principles.
Mr Mahlala told the Sunday Express he recently cut ties with the LCD after realising that the party’s persistent failure to hold its elective conference was inspired by some of the national executive committee’s (NEC) members’ selfish desires to cling on power.
Mr Mahlala also rubbished the assertions that the party failed to hold its NEC elections in February because of then party leader Mothetjoa Metsing’s self-imposed exile. He said the LCD should have held its elective conference in February this year.
His decision to ditch the LCD for the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) makes him the second successful businessman dump the party after former Mining minister Lebohang Thotanyana. Mr Thotanyana joined the ruling All Basotho Convention in July 2019 citing similar reasons as those of Mr Mahlala. He also accused the party’s leadership of blocking him out of leadership positions as a way of self-preservation.
Mr Mahlala says there was no conspiracy between him and Mr Thotanyana to dump the LCD. Instead, he says he was unhappy with Mr Metsing repeatedly asking Mr Thotanyana not to contest in elections for the deputy leader post. He said this was against the party’s democratic principles.
“When it first came to light that the party was going for elections, we caught wind that Ntate Thotanyana wanted to contest for the deputy leader position,” Mr Mahlala said.
“My former leader (Metsing) then called Ntate Thotanyana and told him not to contest for the deputy leader post. He (Mr Metsing) said he would instead make him (Thotanyana) either the secretary general or the treasurer. I had a problem with that because one cannot use their powers to influence people’s votes in the party.”
He said that the LCD NEC dictated who should contest for which position in the party and “that’s what they don’t want me to talk about”. He said that he was also unhappy in the LCD after it became evident that the NEC did not want to go for the elective conference.
“It is a fact that the NEC’s time was up. The LCD ought to have gone for NEC elections after three years and that did not happen. I spoke to relevant people within the party’s leadership structures and made them aware that it was a bad practice for LCD to refuse to go for elections. I then realised that party was not going for elections because the NEC members were clinging onto power.
“I assume that one of the reasons for their continued stay in power was the instability within the current government. They wanted to ensure that should the country go for elections; they would continue to be in control of the party and be assured seats in parliament. That is my assumption but the fact of the matter is that, if the LCD wants to respond to my utterances, they should come out right and say I am lying when I say the NEC’s time is up,” he said.
To buttress his assertions, Mr Mahlala said the LCD secretary general post that was vacated by Movement for Economic Change leader Selibe Mochoboroane in January 2017 still remained vacant despite that Mr Mochoboroane’s newly formed party had already gone for its NEC elections.
He noted that the LCD’s failure to fill the post was a clear demonstration of the party’s lack of democracy and that its NEC members would do anything to stay in power. The party last held elections in 2015 and was meant to have held the next elections in 2018.
“There is no reason to justify why they have not elected a new NEC for almost two years now,” Mr Mahlala said. He said that it was untrue that the party failed to go for elections because the current NEC concentrated its efforts in ensuring Mr Metsing’s safety while he was in exile.
“Where were they to concentrate their efforts in ensuring the leader’s safety? Where were they because I am the one who mostly met with the leader while he was in exile? I am the one who would transport him to his respective meetings. The NEC has so many positions and you want to tell me that all those people concentrated their efforts on the safety of the leader when he was in Gauteng? That is not true. Some of them do not even where he stayed in South Africa,” he exclaimed.
He said the NEC ought to have concentrated on growing the party in Mr Metsing’s absence. He argued that since Mr Metsing returned to Lesotho in November 2018, the LCD could have held its elections if the leaders wanted to.
“What have they done to hold elections? Does it justify that they have taken almost a year before holding the elections claiming that they are working on the membership? How long does it take for them to organise membership? For me, this is not justifiable. However, I am not bitter,” he said.
Mr Mahlala also used the interview to rubbish allegations that he was awarded a Maseru City Council tender to construct a road at Ha-Matala during the 2012 ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) coalition government because of his connections with Mr Metsing.
“It is a shame that a very senior leader in one of the local political parties makes such allegations without any shred of evidence. That issue was discussed in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and I was exonerated.
“Even today, I still maintain that I was never paid any money in advance for that tender. Not even a cent but a perception has been created in people’s minds that I was paid and left the road unfinished. Go there, drive around and check if the road construction is incomplete. Ask if I was ever paid in advance. Nothing was paid and instead, they (Maseru City Council) owe me. I have said this before on radio and I am challenging them (Maseru City Council) to bring evidence proving that I owe them,” Mr Mahlala said.
Contacted for comment, LCD deputy spokesperson Apesi Ratšele said the party was happy for Mr Mahlala and that the latter should “join a party of his own choice where an NEC will be elected when he (Mahlala) wants to”.