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Fireworks expected as Rapapa takes on Moleleki

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‘Marafaele Mohloboli

ALLIANCE of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki’s future at the helm of the party is under threat after a majority of its constituencies nominated his deputy, Ntoi Rapapa, for the leadership post.

The six-year old party is scheduled to hold an elective conference from 31 March to 2 April 2023 at Leqele High School in Maseru. The indaba could see Mr Moleleki losing control of the AD which he formed in November 2016 after ditching the then ruling Democratic Congress (DC).

According to the nomination lists published by the party on Thursday, 39 constituencies have indicated that they want Prof Rapapa to contest for the post of leader.

Twenty constituencies still believe in Mr Moleleki while another five constituencies favour heavy weight and long-time party Moleleki loyalist, Mokoto Hloaele to lead the party. Mr Hloaele is the AD MP for Malibamatsó constituency in Leribe district.

For the deputy leader’s position, Mr Hloaele tops the list after 50 constituencies choose him, while Prof Rapapa garnered support from only five constituencies. Put into perspective, it all means that the majority of regions want Rapapa as party leader, rather than deputy leader.

Mr Moleleki was deputy prime minister under the Thomas Thabane 2017-2020 coalition administration comprising the All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).

Prof Rapapa is the Education and Training Minister in the current coalition government led by Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP). Health Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC) is also part of the coalition.  The AD, MEC and RFP forged the coalition after the October 2022 general elections.

AD insiders told this publication that Mr Moleleki had lost favour in the eyes of many members who were of the view that he was way past his sell by date and was no longer marketable.

Instead, they want Prof Rapapa to succeed him and be deputised by Mr Hloaele.

Mr Moleleki has pleaded with the leadership and other sections of the party to ensure that the positions of leader and deputy leaders are not contested. This would help quell factionalism and avert a split, he says.

However, the leadership, especially Prof Rapapa’s camp, have rejected Mr Moleleki’s pleas outright. They want him to step down to revive the party’s fortunes.

Mr Moleleki’s detractors are calling on him to retire saying he has overstayed and was no longer able to move the party forward.

The AD won two constituency seat and an additional  three proportional representation seats (PR) in the 7 October 2022 elections.

Prof Rapapa was not available for comment yesterday as his number was not going through.

But in an interview on Wednesday prior to the release of the nominations list the following day, he could not confirm nor deny that  he would be standing against Mr Moleleki.

He said he was awaiting feedback on the nominations.

“In the AD, people with an interest to contest do not state that, but are instead nominated by the constituencies. The nomination lists will reveal all. I am not able to say whether I am up for the challenge or not because I can only be nominated,” Prof Rapapa said.

He said the tenure of the NEC had ended and all positions were up for grabs.

On his part, Mr Hloaele yesterday told the Sunday Express that he was more than willing to take the baton from Prof Rapapa as deputy leader if the constituencies choose him.

“I am just a servant and shall do as expected,” he said.

Mr Moleleki was also not available for comment.