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LPC infighting spills into court

by Sunday Express
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Billy Ntaote

The Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC)’s infighting scaled new heights on Friday after the High Court granted the National Executive Committee (NEC) an interim order blocking party leader and Social Development Minister Molahlehi Letlotlo from holding a special conference in Maseru yesterday.

The conference was set for Lakeside Hotel but had to be called off after the party’s deputy leader, Mabusetsa Makharilele, sought the interdict on behalf of the NEC and LPC as an institution.

The court application was a continuation of the bitter infighting within the LPC which has since seen the NEC writing to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili urging him to fire Mr Letlotlo as minister because the party had lost confidence in his leadership.

In the interim relief granted on Friday, Mr Letlotlo, together with five other NEC members namely Mabala Maqelepo, Maballo Molibeli, ‘Makopano Sekhobo, ‘Maleseli Leseli and Tseko Koantle, were interdicted from holding any special party conference until the application filed before the court had been finalised.

The minister was also interdicted from accessing the LPC’s bank account pending the finalisation of the application.

In his affidavit to support the application, Mr Makharilele said the LPC’s troubles reached boiling point when Mr Letlotlo dismissed party secretary general Moipone Piti and publicity secretary Bokang Ramatšella last month.

The deputy leader also noted in the court papers that Mr Letlotlo should have issued a notice of the pending special conference in line with the party’s constitution.

Mr Makharilele told the court the application was extremely urgent because Mr Letlotlo was violating the constitution by calling for the special conference whose decision could have far-reaching consequences for the LPC.

Mr Makharilele noted in the affidavit:  “He knows that before such a conference can be held, the NEC must make the necessary preparations and ensure that it puts security contingency in place. The agenda of the conference must also be spelled out because a conference cannot just be convened without a clear agenda.

“In the case at hand, the first respondent (Mr Letlotlo) has convened the conference without spelling out the agenda.

“He has also convened this conference without the sanction and resolution of the NEC in that he relies on the decision of a minority who are five in number when the constitution requires that the decisions of the NEC are valid only when they are made by eight members.”

Makharilele further argues the special conference had been convened “contrary to the law and in violation of the provisions of the party’s constitution”.

The conference, he added, was also likely to “polarise the membership that would be attending it and the result is likely to be chaos and possibly bloodshed”.

Makharilele further wrote in the affidavit that party tried to exhaust internal remedies by engaging Minister Letlotlo and his colleagues, but to avail.

“It is in the interests of justice that the respondents are interdicted from holding the special conference, whose intent is to prejudice the proper administration of the party. It is clear that holding this conference will be contrary to the constitution of the party and it is not supported by the majority of NEC members that are entitled to make decisions on behalf of the party as outlined above,” noted Mr Makharilele.

The NEC and LPC would suffer “irreparable harm” should the conference go ahead, he added.

“In addition, the funds of the party cannot be expended on an exercise that is completely unlawful. The first respondent is bound by decisions of the majority of the NEC. He cannot just wish such decisions away. He is bound to respect the decisions of the majority particularly when they form the necessary quorum as stipulated in the applicant’s constitution. He is bound to respect the constitution,” noted Mr Makharilele.

Contacted for comment, Mr Letlotlo confirmed he had been served with the court order and had complied by not holding the special conference.

On the other hand, party spokesperson, Bokang Ramatšella, told the Sunday Express the party would be holding disciplinary hearings for “unruly NEC members” without mentioning them by name.

According to Mr Ramatšella, the NEC found it necessary to have the special conference interdicted “because it would have been used to maliciously endorse the dismissal of the secretary general…and it would also have been used to cancel the decision of the executive to recall Letlotlo from government”.

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