. . . as factionalism spills into youth league
THE infighting in the Democratic Congress (DC) is continuing apace with a disgruntled member of the party’s youth league accusing the Thuso Litjobo-led executive committee of abusing their positions for personal gain.
Rabele Makakole is a Stadium Area constituency DC youth league member who lost the secretary-general position to Letuka Chafotsa during last year’s elective conference.
Mr Makakole has accused the youth league executive committee of spearheading a push to oust Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili from the helm of the party.
However, the DC youth league spokesperson Lemphane Maliehe has dismissed Mr Makakole’s claims, saying they were abiding by the party’s constitution in their bid to “fight corruption” within the public service. Mr Maliehe also said the recently-held DC leadership conference did not address the burning issues propelling the party towards the precipice of a split.
Infighting in the DC has escalated to unprecedented levels, with the party coming apart at the seams over a leadership succession fight and a controversial government fleet tender. The party is divided into two factions, namely Lithope (loosely translated to girlfriends) linked to Dr Mosisili and Lirurubele (butterflies) linked to DC deputy leader and Police Minister Monyane Moleleki.
At the epicentre of the internecine strife is the youth league, which, along with the party’s National Executive Committee contradicted with the government in its decision to award a vehicle fleet contract to Bidvest Fleet Company, and called for its termination so it can be awarded to a joint venture company fighting the deal.
The youth league accused DC treasurer and Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla of disregarding due process in cancelling the tender at the expense of the joint venture company comprising Fleet Service Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Lebelonyane Fleet Solutions (Pty) Ltd that had been recommended for the contract.
The joint venture company has since gone to court seeking an order to stop the government from engaging Bidvest.
Mr Makakole told the Sunday Express this past week the DC youth league executive committee was to blame for the power struggle in the seven-party coalition government’s major partner.
“The youth league, under the current executive committee, is not pursing a youth empowerment agenda. Instead, they are pursuing their own personal interests,” he said.
“Their major focus seems to be demanding tenders from government for their personal businesses and not for the rest of the youths.
“I personally don’t have a problem with people trying their luck in business since there is nothing wrong with that. But they have to adhere to their mandate within the party.”
Mr Makakole said the youth league’s mandate was to fight for the emancipation of young people facing a myriad of economic challenges.
“There are high unemployment and poverty rates threatening the survival of youths in this country,” he said.
“We should be assisting young people to find means of getting a livelihood since the economy is not offering them any opportunities.”
Mr Makakole accused the youth league executive of being used by Dr Mosisili’s political foes to taint his image and push for his ouster. He also upbraided the league for going after Dr Khaketla since she was a senior party member.
“They are crucifying the minister for doing her job. This Bidvest issue was a cabinet decision, and because they have their own hidden agendas they are crucifying her.
“They want their friends to benefit from the tender. If the decision was up to Dr Khaketla alone, she probably would have chosen a different service provider.”
However, Mr Maliehe said Mr Makakole’s claims were “unfounded and misdirected” since the DC youth league remained true to its mandate including fighting corruption.
“Key to our mandate is fighting corruption in the public service. So we will do so without fear or favour. Our other mandate is to teach party members, especially the youth, about the party’s procedures and constitution,” he said.
“Our mandate also includes youth emancipation by coming up with poverty alleviation projects.”
Mr Maliehe also scoffed at claims the youth league was agitating for the fleet tender contract to be awarded to Lebelonyane so they could benefit.
“Our interest in this issue was prompted by the seemingly corrupt nature of the deal, and not because we had something to gain from the Lebelonyane directors,” he said.
“I dare Makakole to reveal the personal interests that youth league executive committee members have in the fleet tender.”
Mr Maliehe also accused Mr Makakole of belonging to the Lithope faction, which he said was fomenting divisions between Dr Mosisili and Mr Moleleki.
“We know that he is making these claims to divert people’s attention from Dr Khaketla whom we believe has not handled the fleet tender correctly. Again, they are trying their best to advance their agenda of usurping the powers of the prime minister to their faction. Yet in actual fact, Dr Mosisili is the party leader and his closest ally is the deputy leader and not someone else from another party,” he said.
“It is must be clear that since the leadership conference, nothing has changed because it never addressed the burning issues within the party which are threatening the party’s stability.”