Bongiwe Zihlangu and Tebello Moalosi
MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) on Monday hauled the Democratic Congress (DC) before the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) disciplinary tribunal. The LCD accuses the DC members of clinging onto its property when they broke away from the then ruling party in February. Keketso Rants’o, the LCD secretary general, appeared before the tribunal on her party’s behalf while Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s ruling DC was represented by the party’s Koro-Koro constituency national assembly election candidate, Refiloe Litjobo.
The tribunal was chaired by Advocate Sakoane Sakoane. Rants’o told the Sunday Express that LCD constituency leaders that moved to the DC had failed to return stamps, membership cards, gistration books, forms, flags and money from some 20 constituencies after the LCD split. Some of those constituencies include Koro-Koro, Maama, Qacha’s Nek, Mechechane, Tele and Maseru. MPs for Qacha’s Nek, Mechachane and Tele were among those who defected to the DC with Mosisili at the party’s formation in parliament. Rants’o said the LCD executive had “established beyond reasonable doubt that some people had defected to the DC with their property”.
“We had to demand our property back, especially because its absence hampered our election campaign efforts. We especially wanted to have our stamps and flags back,” Rants’o said. Rants’o said that before dragging the DC before the disciplinary tribunal, the LCD’s leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, had written to the DC secretary general Ralechate ‘Mokose demanding the items. A follow up meeting, Rants’o said, failed to produce any results. She said after that meeting the LCD proached the IEC tribunal. “’Mokose’s failure to respond prompted us to lodge a complaint with the IEC and both parties appeared before the tribunal on Monday,” Rants’o said. Rants’o said Monday’s meeting stretched beyond lunchtime because the DC would not admit that it was still holding on to the LCD’s property.
However, Rants’o said after the lunch break a letter arrived from the DC indicating that the party would release the said items to the LCD. “While the meeting was still going on the DC’s Koro-Koro constituency whose candidate was representing the party, returned the LCD property it had in its possession.” The tribunal eventually ruled that she and ‘Mokose should meet to forge the way forward and report back on the progress made on May 7. “After leaving the tribunal yesterday, I called him (‘Mokose) several times to set up a meeting but he would not pick his phone,” Rants’o said. “But we will keep on going to the tribunal until the DC returns all our property.”
When contacted for comment, Litjobo confirmed that the DC did indeed appear before the tribunal on Monday and that he represented the DC. However, Litjobo was quick to add that although the LCD made it appear as though the DC had intentionally left with the other party’s property “we don’t need them”. “What do we need LCD property for? Everything that bears the name of the LCD is just clutter to us, messy and useless,” Litjobo said. “DC top brass were not even aware that there was LCD property in our possession. What could we gain from holding on to LCD property? It does not give us any mileage.” Litjobo said individuals who were responsible for the items while still LCD constituency officials included chairpersons, secretaries and treasurers and that there was never any intention to deceitfully retain the items.
Litjobo said the LCD had drawn up a list of items it wanted back including stone-cutting machines which were lent to all LCD constituencies by government. He however vowed that they won’t be giving the stone-cutters to the LCD because they were government property. “They cannot demand that we return the stone-cutting equipment because it belongs to government, not the LCD,” Litjobo said. He added that a perception should not be created that the DC left with a lot of money because even the LCD itself could not establish how much it is. “The money was collected from membership fees. For every M1 paid by each member, 10 cents remains with the sub-branch, 20 cents with the branch, 30 cents with the constituency and the remaining 40 cents with the headquarters.”
He said ‘Mokose had already issued a circular to the constituencies ordering them to return all LCD equipment in their possession. “We will meet again on May 7 at the tribunal provided there are sticking issues after the planned meetings,” Litjobo said.
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