By Bongiwe Zihlangu
MASERU — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party spent M140 000 on a research to establish why it lost 18 urban constituencies in the 2007 elections.
The ruling party lost 17 seats to Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party which was barely four months old when the elections were held.
The other seat went to the Alliance of Congress Parties made up of the Lesotho People’s Congress and the Basutoland African Congress.
The research, which was commissioned by the party’s national executive committee, was also meant to establish why the LCD won by a margin of 500 or less votes in seven other urban constituencies.
The seven constituencies include Mafeteng number 55 which is represented in the National Assembly by Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla.
The directive to carry out the research followed a resolution made by a worried LCD leadership conference a few months after the 2007 elections but its contents have been kept under wraps for the past two years.
Information about the report’s existence only became public when the party’s national executive committee wrote a memo to a party-owned paper, Mololi, last month.
In that memo the executive committee was trying to squash allegations that it misused the M150 000 which was initially budgeted for the research.
This allegation was one of the many that 26 LCD constituencies have cited in their bid to have the committee disbanded.
Other allegations include that the committee is inept, insubordinate and disloyal.
In the memo the committee however denied the allegations.
The party is now planning to hold a special conference in mid-March to decide the fate of the national executive committee.
On allegations that funds set aside for the research were misused the committee said the money was “used for a just cause”.
“According to the report by the party’s treasurer tabled before the 2009 annual general conference, the money used to pay for the research is M139 273,” the memo says.
“It is not the M150 000 that the accusers of the national executive committee claim it to be. It was a decision made by the conference to conduct a research of that nature.”
“In that case the committee is convinced the M139 273 used to conduct the research, was done in line with the directive given by the leadership of the party. The money was used for the good of the party.”
Lehohla, who is also the LCD deputy leader, on Friday confirmed to the Sunday Express the existence of the report but refused to comment on its contents saying it was still confidential.
“The mission to conduct the research was carried out and there is a report to that effect. It is true that we delayed in releasing it. But I am not at liberty to discuss its contents,” Lehohla said.
“It is still confined to the executive committee. There is an executive committee sub-committee currently analysing its contents.”
He was however prepared to talk about the reasons why he won Mafeteng constituency narrowly.
“Mafeteng was one of the constituencies which won by less than 500 votes. It appears that LCD members became complacent,” Lehohla said.
“They took it for granted that the party would win elections as we had done in the past. The pattern seems to have prevailed in all urban constituencies.”
Lehohla said the findings of the report also point to the Basotho National Party (BNP) having lost a significant number of voters to the ABC.
These votes from the BNP could have propelled the ABC to victory or helped cut the LCD’s margin of victory in other constituencies.
The LCD, he said, had also lost support to the ABC.
“The fact that we lost members to the ABC because it was a splinter party from the LCD also seems to have contributed to our performance in that election,” Lehohla said.
“There is evidence that disgruntled LCD elements voted for the ABC, as did those from the BNP. Another suggestion is that a significant number of civil servants voted for the ABC.”
Although Lehohla would not get into the recommendations of the report he said the LCD would have to “carefully analyse its weaknesses” so that it regains those seats in the 2012 elections.
“We have to go on a journey of introspection. Take for example the issue we’re currently grappling with, of the 26 constituencies calling for the dissolution of the executive committee,” Lehohla said.
These internal squabbles, Lehohla said, could affect the party’s performance at the polls.
“We will work towards stabilising the situation. What else can one do than do what you know best?” Lehohla said.
We have to think of what we can do to reach out and find out what exactly is going on, Lehohla said.