BELA-BELA — Former All Basotho Convention (ABC) Bela-Bela constituency chairman Mojakisane Lisene says massive defections of ABC members to the opposition Democratic Congress (DC) are fuelled by infighting that has rocked the constituency since last year.
On Friday, Lisene and constituency secretary ‘Malintle Kheleli led more than 125 defectors from the ABC to the DC. Those were joined by many other defectors claiming to be coming from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (71), Basotho National Party (30), Popular Front for Democracy (20), Basotho National Democratic Party (10) while 65 said they did not have parties of origin.
The total number of the defectors at the last count was 322 although more people joined those who had already been counted. The DC’s May 2012 national assembly poll candidate Nkhahle Rammatli lost the constituency to the ABC after garnering 2 229 votes to Litšoane’s 2 621, a margin of 392 votes.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) which won the constituency in the 2007 poll came in third with 848 votes. Lisene told the Sunday Express on Friday the main reason for the infighting was his bitter fallout with Litšoane who is also the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the ABC constituency by virtue of being an MP.
Lisene who contested with Litšoane for candidacy to represent the ABC in the national assembly poll claimed that cracks started showing after his election into the constituency committee as chairman. “I learnt that Ntate Litšoane was not happy with my election. I was reliably informed that he doesn’t want someone he was contesting the past party primaries with to be in the constituency committee,” Lisene said.
“I also established that some of the party members and Litšoane were jealous that I was elected in absentia to be the constituency chairman,” Lisene said. Lisene was speaking to this paper at the DC rally where his defecting supporters had just been welcomed into the DC by party leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
He said Litšoane and his faction seemed to be unhappy with his presence in the committee so much that “certain committee decisions were defied without substantial reason”. “Our relations in the party in this constituency soured to the extent that we felt we needed to leave, but not before we sought redress from the national executive committee on numerous occasions,” Lisene said. “We were now having endless arguments that caused a lot of conflicts among us”.
Lisene said Litšoane was supposed to have brought resolutions to some of the problems that the constituency faced internally but, “he seemed to be the one fueling the confusion and problems in the constituency committee.”
Lisene said the minister always made rulings that seemed to favour the clique he led whenever there were issues to resolve. “As per the ABC constitution, we referred our problems to the headquarters of the party after we failed to get a resolution within our constituency,” Lisene said.
“We went to the national executive committee on numerous occasions trying to get these squabbles resolved but we decided to defect to the DC while we were still awaiting an answer from ABC leadership as the troubles had intensified”.
He said the party’s dispute resolution committee had ordered the two warring factions in the constituency to “make peace at the constituency and come up with an interim committee” that would prepare for a fresh election whilst “we waited for the national executive committee to pronounce itself over our stalemate.”
Lisene said the same problems they were faced with persisted hence they decided to “defect to the next biggest party in the constituency”. “We realised the interim committee was set up but it did not include both warring groups as advised initially by the dispute resolution committee,” Lisene said.
Kheleli corroborated Lisene’s claims saying even after returning from the headquarters, where the dispute resolution committee had addressed their issues the committees did not see eye to eye.
“We continued to be excluded from everything and they even decided not to include us into the interim committee,” Kheleli said. Kheleli said she did not have peace in the ABC at the constituency.
“We realised there was no need to establish two committees in one party and stay where we were in continual infighting. We could not build peace and we were said to be the troublemakers in the party,” Kheleli said.
She said the decision to join the DC was that the party was already commanding a huge following in the constituency. Efforts to get Litšoane’s comment were fruitless.