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NIP members call for elections

Nat Molomo

MASERU — Three members of the National Independent Party (NIP) on Thursday filed papers in the High Court seeking an order to force the party’s executive committee to hold elections for a new leadership.

The applicants — Kalinyane Seitlheko, Khopotso Ts’ehlo and Soke Molefe — want the High Court to order the party to organise a national general conference to elect a new substantive committee.

The applicants said in their court papers that the NIP executive committee had failed to hold a general conference as required by the party’s constitution since April 2009.

Ousted NIP vice-president Serame Khampepe is cited as a respondent with eight other members of the national executive committee. 

The registrar general and attorney general are also cited as the 12 and 13th respondents.

The NIP is an ally of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy party.

The three said the term of office of members of the current national executive committee expired on or about April 13, 2009.

They also want the special conference that was held on January 29 this year to amend the party’s constitution to be declared unconstitutional.

They also want the members of the NIP executive committee to organise a national conference not later than 28 days after the final court order.

According to the court papers, the three applicants who claim to be card-carrying members of the NIP want eight of the respondents to be interdicted and restrained from holding themselves out as “substantive office bearers of the National Executive Committee other than as interim committee members”. 

They want the respondents restrained from transacting any business of the party other than matters related to the preparation for the holding of the party conference.

The applicants said in terms of the NIP’s constitution a general national conference, which also serves as an elective conference for the NEC, should be held annually.

“The last time such conference was held was April 12, 2008,” the applicants state in their papers.

They said on January 29, 2011 the respondents convened a special conference instead of holding a long overdue elective national general conference.

That conference, according to the three NIP members, purportedly resolved to amend the constitution.

They maintain that they and several other members of the party had for sometime been agitating for the holding of a national conference without success.

According to the three they submitted a petition on March 27, 2011 signed by them and 18 other NIP members demanding that an elective conference be held.

“I submit that the terms of office of all respondents who were elected on April 12, 2008 expired during April 2009,” Seitlheko says in court papers.

He adds that the current committee “could only remain in office as a caretaker committee with the mandate to prepare for the holding of a national general conference where substantive committee members would be elected”.

He added that the special general conference held in January this year had violated the party’s constitution.

“The special national conference of January 29, 2011 was not preceded by any form of notice envisaged in section 20.1 of the constitution.

“Most of the members including myself first learnt about the conference five days before the conference date from (Khampepe, the party’s ousted vice-president) through telephone communication,” Seitlheko says in his court papers.

“In premises set forth, I submit that the said special general conference was unconstitutional and all resolutions passed thereat were of no effect and consequence.”

He also alleged that members of the current executive committee were mismanaging the affairs of the party “with impunity and yet their terms have long expired”.

“Therefore they have no colour of right to transact any party business other than to make preparations for the holding of the national general conference.”

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