Bongiwe Zihlangu & Caswell Tlali
MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is battling to paper over cracks within its women’s wing which has been torn into factions since the ruling party held elections for its structures in 2008.
The simmering tensions in the women’s league — the party’s key organ when it comes to drawing votes — reached boiling point at the LCD’s closed meeting held at ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre on May 29.
Party insiders told the Sunday Express this week that tempers soared after Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, the LCD leader, “talked about the corruption and deceit that he said was eating at the LCD’s administrative structures”.
The meeting then almost degenerated into a farce after the issue of the election of ’Matanki Mokhabi as treasurer of the women’s league in 2008 was thrown into the fray, according to a source who attended the indaba.
The source said a faction of the women’s league said the meeting could not discuss deceit and corruption without addressing Mokhabi’s hotly disputed election.
“As he addressed the meeting, the LCD leader touched on the corruption and deceptive tactics used by members within the party’s administrative structures,” the source said.
“That opened the platform for members to state their concerns and for sensitive issues including Mokhabi’s case to be discussed.”
Mokhabi’s adversaries, led by senior members of the women’s league, allege her election to the treasurer’s post was “engineered” against the will of the majority.
“It was hectic in there and M’e ’Matanki (Mokhabi) was hurt,” the source said.
“There was a string of confrontations in that meeting. People were questioned about the role they played in the alleged rigging of votes to secure Mokhabi that position.”
This was not the first time that Mokhabi’s election as the LCD women’s league treasurer had been questioned.
In the past, questions have been asked how she secured the post ahead of ’Maphoka Motoboli during the league’s elections in 2008.
Motoboli was initially declared the duly elected treasurer until a recount overturned the result and saw Mokhabi being declared the winner.
The outcome fuelled the tensions in the women’s wing.
A faction opposed to Mokhabi’s election alleged that the constituencies that had challenged Motoboli’s election had done so after the stipulated 14 days had lapsed.
The faction also alleged that the ballots could have been tampered with before the recount.
This allegation has however not been independently verified nor has the party investigated it.
Instead the LCD has been trying to bottle up the tensions in the women’s league as the 2012 general elections inch closer.
When contacted for comment, Mokhabi refused to confirm whether or not her issue had been discussed at the May 29 meeting of the party’s five supreme committees — national executive, women and youth leagues as well as the Gauteng and Free State provincial committees.
“I do not know where you got the information from because as you well put it, the meeting involved LCD committees and was therefore closed,” Mokhabi told the Sunday Express.
“Since it is clear that the meeting was closed, I am not in a position to comment any further. That is all I have to say.”
The LCD’s public relations officer, Khotso Matla, confirmed that Mokhabi’s issue had been discussed although it was not necessarily “part of the meeting’s agenda”.
Matla said allegations that the election of Mokhabi as the women’s league treasurer had been engineered were lies aimed at destroying the LCD.
“This party has enemies waiting at every corner with daggers raised,” Matla said. “They are just out to destroy us with a string of lies.”
LCD women’s league secretary-general Keketso Rants’o told the Sunday Express she was disappointed that some party members “sell out confidential party issues to the media”.
“I am disappointed in them because there are platforms where party issues are discussed . . . where people are given the chance to raise their concerns,” Rants’o said.
“I am the secretary-general of the LCD women’s league and if there’s anything at all to divulge about the committee it is my responsibility to do so.”
Rants’o however said she could not comment on the Mokhabi issue “because I respect party structures in a special way”.
“It is clear that the meeting you are referring to was closed and that it involved supreme LCD committees,” she said.
“I do not have the power, therefore, to discuss any information regarding those committees.
“Whatever discussion took place in that meeting stays there. I cannot go into details.”