THE widening rift between two Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) factions is threatening to tear the party apart, with deputy leader Dr Motloheloa Phooko recently reporting Secretary-General Mamolula Ntabe to the police for alleged housebreaking and theft.
Dr Phooko also locked out Ms Ntabe and other National Executive Committee (NEC) members aligned to her from the party office on Friday, to escalate the internecine feud rocking the party.
A storm has been brewing in the RCL since last October when Ms Ntabe announced exiled party leader Keketso Rantšo and Dr Phooko had resigned from their positions fueling speculation of a power struggle in the year-old party.
However, Ms Rantšo and Dr Phooko denied the claim, saying it was a ploy to destabilise the party.
Ms Ntabe has been accused of having joined forces with the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), of which the RCL is an offshoot – an allegation she has vehemently denied.
Ms Rantšo, Dr Phooko and RCL youth league leader Retšelisitsoe Lesane have been linked to one of the contending factions, while Ms Ntabe and other NEC members are linked to the other.
The feud intensified after the RCL’s Deputy Secretary-General Maseithati Mabeleng tried to by-pass Ms Ntabe by calling for a party conference – which is the latter’s prerogative.
Ms Ntabe responded by lodging a High Court application last November seeking to call off the conference which is set to be heard tomorrow.
According to RCL spokesperson Moshe Kopanye, Dr Phooko reported Ms Ntabe to the police for allegedly stealing party property which included application forms and membership cards.
“The deputy leader took the secretary-general to Thamae police station claiming she had stolen the party membership application forms and cards. And just as we were grappling with that, yesterday (Friday) we found the office padlocked,” said Kopanye.
Contacted for comment, Dr Phooko admitted reporting Ms Ntabe to the police but said it happened “a long time ago”. He said there was no ill will in locking the party office since he wanted to use it for other purposes.
“I reported the stolen property to the police about two months ago and only locked the office on Friday and wrote Mme Ntabe a letter telling her that I will be needing that office for other purposes and I would give her another one at my place, so she should come and see me. I left the letter with someone guarding the office to give her the letter should she show up,” Dr Phooko said, adding he owned the building.
However, he admitted that tensions were still high within the party in light of the High Court case.
“We have failed to resolve our issues such that Mme Ntabe and those linked to her took us to court. I don’t think it will be fair to comment on the rumors that she could be defecting to another party,” added Dr Phooko.
Efforts to contact = were fruitless at the time of going to print as her phone rang unanswered.
The RCL is part of the opposition alliance which also consists of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP).
Monyane Moleleki’s recently-formed Alliance for Democrats was recently added to the opposition coalition’s ranks after inking a cooperation agreement.
The RCL, ABC and BNP have been rocked by infighting with the ABC having suspended its deputy leader Tlali Khasu for allegedly castigating party leader and former premier Thomas Thabane. Mr Khasu eventually parted ways with the ABC and formed his own party.
For its part, the BNP expelled ’Makhotso Matšumunyane and Lesojane Leuta as party members earlier last year, and is seeking the duo’s ouster as members of parliament in the High Court.
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