MASERU — Local Government Minister Ponts’o Sekatle was yesterday tipped to take over the presidency of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) women’s league.
The league held an elective conference at Maseru High School to elect a new leader to replace ’Mathabiso Lepono who resigned last week after serving three consecutive terms.
Hundreds of LCD delegates from around the country who were clad in party regalia sang and danced as the conference got underway.
Sekatle, who was Lepono’s deputy, was expected to land the top post as there were no other contenders.
“She is going unchallenged,” a party source who refused to be named told the Sunday Express yesterday.
The LCD women’s league, like the main party, is split along factional lines with two rival groups vying for supremacy.
The two main factions are reportedly led by Communications Minister Motheoja Metsing and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
However Metsing and Moleleki have in the past vociferously denied leading any factions.
The source said a rival faction aligned to Metsing did not submit its nomination list allowing Sekatle, who is said to belong to the rival faction, to stand in the election unchallenged.
“The Litima-Mollo (Metsing faction) has not submitted a nomination list for their preferred candidates. Only the Lija-Mollo (Moleleki faction) faction has.
“This means we are going to win the committee elections by a landslide,” said one youth member.
“It will be the same as the youth league elective conference where we beat Litima-Mollo into a pulp.”
At the last LCD women’s league elections held in 2008 posts were evenly shared between the rival factions.
Before yesterday’s elections speculation was rife within the ruling party that secretary general Keketso Rants’o, said to belong to the Metsing faction, would contest the presidency.
But by yesterday afternoon, there was no indication that she would do so.
She however graciously formed part of the senior party officials who joined LCD leader Pakalitha Mosisili on the podium for the official opening of the indaba.
Also in attendance were former executive committee member Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa who sat comfortably with the rest of the delegates on the floor.
LCD deputy leader Lesao Lehohla, members of the national youth committee and some MPs also attended the elective conference.
However, it was not smooth sailing for the Moleleki faction which had three candidates vying for the post of secretary general.
By early last night, none of the three — Rethabile Marumo, home affairs deputy minister Lineo Molise, and ’Masechaba ’Makong — was prepared to step down to make room for a single candidate.
Thaba-Putsoa constituency MP ’Mamolili Marupelo was earmarked for the league’s vice-presidency, with current chairperson ’Maphakiso Moseme expected to retain her position, deputised by ’Manthatisi Monoana.
Labour minister ’Maphoka Motoboli who was stripped of the treasurer’s post at the last elective conference in 2008 after she had initially been declared winner was yesterday set to win it back as there was no other contender for the post.
Speaking at the conference Mosisili paid tribute to Lepono for “a sterling job during her tenure as the women’s league president”.
He said Lepono, 69, had done a noble thing by retiring at the right time.
“This business of people who hold on to power instead of making way for new blood is wrong. Her (Lepono) voluntary retirement should be a good example and valuable lesson to us all,” Mosisili said amid murmurs of disapproval from some female delegates on the floor.
“She can retire, but not you,” they chanted.
Mosisili added that he was shocked by LCD members who took the party to court to block conferences although “they serve as a platform for us to discuss issues”.
“When there are mistakes and disciplinary measures to be taken against members, conferences are a ‘parliament’ for us to sort out these matters,” he said.
The party leader said it was unfortunate that there were claims that some women bestowed with positions of responsibility “buy them with their thighs”.
“It’s insulting and demeaning to women. Women are given positions of power because they deserve them. It’s not out of pity or to make them happy,” Mosisili said.
“The LCD women’s league should fight this scourge with all its might.”