Mosisili sues DC NEC
Premier wants party letterhead, stamp Seeks court’s endorsement of suspensions
WITH a split in the Democratic Congress ( DC) all but a certainty, the battle for the ownership of the party has begun in earnest with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili (pictured) lodging an urgent High Court application to compel 10 National Executive Committee (NEC) members to hand over party symbols.
Dr Mosisili also seeks an endorsement by the court of his suspension of the 10 NEC members aligned to deputy leader Monyane Moleleki, who in turn have also suspended him as party leader.
However, the Sunday Express has also learnt that the 10 NEC members have also lodged a High Court application challenging Dr Mosisili’s legitimacy as DC leader.
The acrimony between Dr Mosisili and the NEC was ratcheted after Mr Moleleki, who now claims to be acting DC leader, on Thursday signed a coalition agreement with the tripartite opposition bloc to oust the seven-party coalition government led by Dr Mosisili.
Under the pact with the All Basotho Convention, Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho, Mr Moleleki would head the coalition for the first 18 months in the event they form government.
The coalition pact has likely put paid to any chances of the strifetorn DC reconciling as the two factions aligned to the two gladiators had already dug in their heels. Mr Moleleki is an avowed member of the DC’s Lirurubele (butterflies) faction that is fighting the ( Lithope girlfriends) grouping, which supports Dr Mosisili, for the control of the party.
The bulk of the NEC’s members, who are aligned to Mr Moleleki, on 10 November this year withdrew the DC from the seven-party governing coalition government and ordered members, including Dr Mosisili, to resign from their government positions. Dr Mosisili has since dismissed the move as “null and void”, saying the NEC did not have the powers to make such a decision.
Mr Moleleki and four other ministers and deputies also resigned from government, before moving to the National Assembly’s crossbench to signify their withdrawal from the government.
The NEC went on to suspend Dr Mosisili for alleged misconduct, but the premier has insisted he remains DC leader and called for an emergency party conference from 2 to 4 December this year to take “harsh disciplinary measures” on the NEC for its decisions that are “dangerous to the party”.
He said the “so-called suspension” was an illegal attempt to hijack his constitutional powers as party leader by “rebels” led by Mr Moleleki.
Dr Mosisili said the “rebels” also included DC Secretary-General Ralechate ’Mokose, Chairperson ’ Maboiketlo Maliehe, Deputy Secretary-General Refiloe Litjobo, Deputy Chairperson Kose Makoa, Deputy Editor Retšelisitsoe Masenyetse, Second Member Ndiwuhleli Ndlomose, third member ’Mathabo Shao, fourth member Rethabile Marumo and Youth League President Thuso Litjobo.
This past week, the premier counter-suspended Mr Moleleki and nine other NEC members after they failed to respond to his letters requesting them to motivate why they should not be suspended.
In the court application lodged on Friday, Dr Mosisili, together with DC spokesperson Serialong Qoo, Treasurer ‘ Mamphono Khaketla and ‘ Maphakiso Moseme want the court to order the 10 NEC members to hand over the official letterhead, stamp and any other DC office equipment pending the convening of the special conference.
Mr Moleleki and ‘ Mokose are cited as first and second respondents, while Ms Maliehe, Mr Ndlomose, Mr Makoa, Ms Marumo, Mr Masenyetse, Refiloe and Thuso Litjobo as well as Ms Shao are cited as third to tenth respondents respectively.
In their certificate of urgency, the applicants argue Mr Moleleki is engaged in “ongoing acts of unlawfulness” and “causing confusion within the party”.
The applicants also argue that the 10 NEC members are “illegally interfering with the party processes aimed at addressing their rebellious behaviour”.
Dr Mosisili and his co-applicants seek an order for the respondents to be ordered to “desist forthwith” from communicating and making publications in the name of the party pending finalisation of the case.
They also want the official letterhead and stamp, which would ordinarily be in the possession of the party secretary-general, Mr ‘Mokose, as the chief administrator.
“The first to 10th respondents (should) be ordered to return the property of the 12th respondent, Democratic Congress, being official letterhead, the stamp and any other property used in the Democratic Congress’s office to the Democratic Congress office and to desist from using the said property pending resolution of their suspension by the party’s conference.”
Dr Mosisili and his co-applicants also want the court to endorse his suspension of the 10 NEC members “in terms of clause 5.3.1 (h) of the constitution of the Democratic Congress”.
In motivating the application, Dr Mosisili makes an affidavit and supported by his three co-applicants.
Narrating the events that led to the application, Dr Mosisili states: “On or around Sunday the 4th September the party, Democratic Congress, held a rally at (sic) Hololo (Butha-Buthe district).
“The general behaviour of some members of the party in attendance was not proper. They were hurling insults and disrupting the proceedings.”
During his address at the rally, Dr Mosisili was constantly interrupted and jeered. Some of the DC members had come to the rally wearing T-shirts emblazoned with both Dr Mosisili and Mr Moleleki’s images in contravention of a party directive to only have the premier’s image.
As a result of the discord, the party suspended all of its rallies scheduled for September until the leadership conference held the next month.
“In the aftermath and in terms of the constitution of Democratic Congress, a leadership conference was held on the 7th, 8th and 9th October 2016 at (Manthabiseng) convention centre in the district of Maseru,” says Dr Mosisili.
“The matters that arose in Hololo were addressed. According to me the conference ended peacefully and the disputes which were otherwise brewing were dealt with and resolved.”
He also touches on the contentious 18 September march organised by government supporters to show “full solidarity” with the seven-party governing coalition. Mr Moleleki was one of the senior DC officials conspicuous by their absence during the march, with Mr ‘Mokose disassociating the main coalition partner from the event.
Instead, Mr Moleleki held a rally in his Machache constituency, where he told supporters he felt “insulted” by an invitation by one of the organisers and Lesotho People’s Congress official, Bokang Ramatšella, to join the protest march.
“On the 18th September 2016, there was a public procession which was meant to show that the members of the public still have confidence in me as the prime minister and to the coalition government which I lead,” says Dr Mosisili.
“The said public procession was successfully held. I aver with certainty that the 1st to the 10th respondents did not attend the said public procession despite pite the fact that the 1st and nd 2nd respondents werere ministers of governnment.
“I later on learnt that at the 1st respondent hadad not attended the said d public procession because he had attended a rally which he had d called in his constituuency of Machachee #39.”
Of the NEC’s decision to pull out of the coalition government, the premier argues it was unprocedural and thus unlawful.
“On or around the 10th November 2016, the 1st to the 10th respondents held a press conference at AVANI Lesotho hotel in Maseru.
“During the said press conference they indicated that the executive committee of the Democratic Congress announced that they had resolved to withdraw the Democratic Congress from the coalition government.
“They also appealed to the ministers from DC to resign from cabinet . . . I must hasten to say I was shocked and amazed upon hearing of the said announcement because at the time they made such an announcement there had not been a meeting of the executive committee of the Democratic Congress which discussed and resolved that the party should withdraw from the coalition government agreement.
“I took the matter to be a nonstarter because the 1st to 10th respondents had now made it patently clear that they are breaking away from the party to form a faction loyal to the 1st respondent (Mr Moleleki).”
Dr Mosisili says the procedure for the calling of an NEC meeting is for the secretary-general to discuss the proposed agenda of any meeting with the leader to “seek guidance” citing clause 5.3.3 (a) of the party’s constitution.
“The secretary-general would then issue invitations to the respective members of the executive committee indicating the date, time and the agenda for discussion.
“At such meetings of the executive committee, I am the chairman of the same unless I have indicated that I would not be present and I do not attend after such notification. In that event, and only in such event, does the deputy leader assume the chair- manship of the meeting of the executive committee.”
He further argues that in “the alleged withdrawal” of the DC from the coalition government, there was no meeting called to discuss the issue.
“I say so because the secretarygeneral never discussed the issue of withdrawal with me for inclusion in the agenda of any meeting. Further, there had never been a time when letters of invitation were issued out either to me or other members of the executive committee, particularly my co-applicants who are members of the executive committee.
“I had never been absent during the time when it is alleged a decision was made at any meeting. Consequently, I verily aver that no such meeting was held, and in the event that it was held, which is still denied, It was improperly held and in violation of the provisions of the constitution of the DC and to that extent the decisions arrived thereat are null and void and of no force and effect.”
Dr Mosisili says after Mr Moleleki and other ministers resigned, they continued making media announcements about the DC.
“The publications were aimed at destroying peaceful relations that the Democratic Congress has with its partners in the coalition government,” he argues.
Lawyers representing both the applicants and respondents are expected to meet in the High Court tomorrow to argue the interim orders sought by the applicants and to map a way forward in the case.
Meanwhile, the respondents also lodged an application on Friday challenging Dr Mosisili’s legitimacy as party leader, with the premier and Mr Qoo cited as first and second respondents respectively.
DC leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili