MASERU — A closed session of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leadership conference almost degenerated into a farce when angry youths confronted the executive committee over its decision to dissolve the youth and women’s leagues, the Sunday Express has learnt.
Sources within the party said although the meeting had been called to discuss party policy and devise strategies on how to grow the party, it ended up as a “question and answer session” as the youths confronted the executive committee.
The women and youth committees were dissolved by the national executive committee on October 11, two days before the leadership indaba, in a controversial move observers said was meant to crush dissent within the two powerful groups.
Youths and former MPs aligned to the LCD had vociferously complained that the national executive committee had ignored their plight following the formation of the coalition government in June, a charge the committee dismissed.
But speaking to the Sunday Express last Saturday, LCD secretary-general Keketso Rantšo appeared to justify the decision to disband the two committees insisting they were temporary structures and could be dissolved anytime by the executive committee “because they were not elected by a conference but were appointed by the NEC”.
She added that the NEC was within its right to dissolve the two committees while the party prepared to hold elective conferences for “constitutional LCD national youth and women’s committees”.
A source within the LCD said when youth league members called for the conference to decide whether the dissolution of the committees should stand or not, LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing stood his ground saying the “the leadership conference had no say in the matter”.
“The leader told the conference that the call made by the youths to have the leadership conference intervene could not stick because the committees were appointed at the discretion of the NEC,” the source said.
“Ntate Metsing added that the dissolution could not be nullified by the indaba because no public opinion was sought when they were initially appointed.”
The source said Metsing’s defence of the NEC was met with thunderous applause from the floor with some “ululating and clapping”, which was in sharp contrast to the heckling and booing of individuals who expressed contrary views.
He added that what happened at the conference suggested there were deep factional fissures within the LCD, eight months after former leader Pakalitha Mosisili walked out of the party when he formed the Democratic Congress party.
“When some members of the youth league asked questions directed at the NEC, they were heckled. But when Ntate Metsing responded in defence of the NEC, there was clapping and ululating by some youth members,” the source claimed.
“But all they wanted to know was why the party continued to form pressure committees when it was apparent that their members were turned into victims after the NEC had achieved its mission with them.”
One of those who were booed off stage was former interim youth leader, Tšoanelo Ramakeoana.
Ramakeoana had suggested that the formation of ‘pressure committees’, set up to help the party campaign after the elective conference of the NEC, was not enshrined in the LCD constitution but had become a practice by national executive committees “to pursue specific agendas”.
“Ramakeoana went up to the stage after Ntate Metsing had said the committees were appointed to help with the party’s election campaign,” the source said.
“He was booed off stage when he said although pressure committees were not provided for in the LCD constitution, they were formed to advance the agenda of some members of the executive committee.”
The source also alleged that Ramakeoana was of the view that the executive had used the committees and now wanted to do away with them but “was booed off the stage before he could even finish”.
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