History

HISTORY OF LCD

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) traces its origins from a pre-independence era protest movement that was referred to as the commoner’s league or Lekhotla la Bafo in Sesotho. Its membership consisted of Basotho traders, teachers and clerks who organized themselves to agitate for the inclusion of commoner’s and secular interests and to ensure the participation of the Basotho in general within what was then the Basotho National Council (BNC). According to the commoner’s league the BNC was only representative of the interests of the British colonial powers ruling Lesotho and of Lesotho’s chiefs alone. The commoner’s league brought pressure on the colonial powers to bring about reforms that will lead Lesotho to be independent. Following the intensification of the Pan Africanist ideology within African States the anti-colonialism movements became more organized and aggressive and as a call to intensify the road to independence Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle and his colleagues formed the first political party in Lesotho in 1952 which was named the Basutoland African Congress (BAC). The Political party’s mission was similar to that of the commoner’s league which was to protest to the exclusion of its members in the BNC, (Breytenbach:1970). In 1959 BAC was renamed the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP). The commoners league was dissolved and gave up its powers to the BAC. BCP took on a militant approach to achieve its objectives and to counter this a new political party the Basutoland National Party (BNP) was formed by Chief Leabua Jonathan and colleagues. BNP had strong roots and relations with the chieftaincy institution and was linked to the Roman Catholic Church. While BCP recruited and articulated for the common interest of all Basotho, BNP on the other hand instigated the interests of the colonial power, chieftaincy and the Roman Catholic Church and it did not recruit women. According to Khaketla (1970) BNP was formed to “fight communism under whatever name it may present itself in Basutoland”. BNP won the first multi-party elections in 1965 and led Lesotho to independence in 1966. However, in 1970 multi-party democracy was muted in Lesotho when BNP was defeated by BCP in an electoral election when BNP annulled elections and suspended the constitution and led the nation to a one party rule (Makoa:2004), until in 1986 when the BNP government was overthrown in a military coup and subsequently multi- party politics were reinstated in a peaceful transition from the military rule to a democratically elected civilian government in 1993. BCP formed the Lesotho Liberation Army as an armed wing by its members in exile mainly to counter attack on the resurgent threats posed to BCP by BNP. Dr. Mokhehle was part of this army. In 1993 BCP won the overall election and had no immediate opposition threats however squabbles developed internally. Following a contest for BCP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) two factions surfaced namely the “pressure Group”/ Maporesha and Majela-thoko. The Majela-thoko group scored victory over Maporesha and the results were not accepted by the losers hence they took the battle to the courts. The high court ruled for a re-election of NEC. After the re-election the results now favored Maporesha. Now it was the Majela-thoko that took to the courts and once again the courts ruled for a fresh election and Maporesha came out victorious once again. Maporesha then resolved to remove Dr. Ntsu Mokhehle who was then Prime Minister of Lesotho from the party leadership. The intensity of the conflict resulted in the subsequent formation of LCD by Dr. Mokhehle in what Matlosa (2008) calls a well calculated move. Dr. Mokhehle held a press conference within which he announced that he was no longer a member of BCP but maintained that he was still the prime minister. In the same occasion he challenged the opposition to challenge him in the national assembly. In the national assembly 41 out of 65 members of parliament formed LCD hence LCD consequently had 42 seats in parliament. In that coup d’état LCD became an immediate ruling party and BCP was relegated as an opposition party. This Dr. Mokhehle did in accordance with section 87 of the constitution which stated that “a prime minister will be a member of parliament who is the leader of a political party or a coalition of parties that command the support of the majority of members of parliament”. From its formation in 1997 to the present despite internal and external challenges, LCD has managed to remain as (Southall:2005) describes as “confident as it is dominant”. LCD party leadership was left in the hands of Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili following the stepping down of Dr. Mokhehle who was Prime Minister of Lesotho for only one term due to old age and illness consequently Mosisili became the prime minister following the 1998 elections. Prior to the 2012 General elections two factions surfaced within LCD; namely the “lijamollo (fire eaters)” and the “litimamollo (fire fighters)”. Lijamollo was alleged to be led by Mr. Monyane Moleleki who was not in LCD’s executive committee but enjoyed support amongst some members on the ground. Litimamollo on the other hand was made up of NEC and at the steering wheel was the then secretary general of LCD, Mr. Mothejoa Metsing. The president of the party Dr. Mosisili sympathized with the lijamollo and inevitably moved on to form a new political party; Democratic Congress (DC). Upon the establishment of DC, LCD had to call an emergency conference to select its new leadership. Following the conference held at LCD’s headquarters, Metsing emerged as the new leader of LCD. Post 2012 elections LCD formed the first ever coalition government, uniting forces with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and BNP, putting aside their ideological and policy outlook differences. DC was subsequently relegated to the opposition seats. However, in less than one year the three political parties forming government could not overlook their ideological differences any longer and the battle of ideologies became dominant again. LCD begun to sympathize with DC and soon enough talks to unite the two parties with all the parties that originate from the “congress” family were prevalent. The government called for a Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention. SADC in turn proposed an early election. In February 2015 Lesotho took to the voting polls after two years of a coalition “flop”. LCD as anticipated aligned with the other 6 political parties from the “congress” family factions to form a coalition government. The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) which originates from the front of the leftist movements also aligned with the congress parties to form a coalition of 7 political parties. The LCD leader Mothejoa Metsing is the deputy prime minister of Lesotho at present. Metsing remains a dominant and influential part of the government hence maintaining against all odds the confidence and dominance of LCD as an organization that opposition can only dare to challenge but can never conquer.