Serious infighting has erupted within the Alliance of Democrats (AD) after the party spokesperson, Thuso Litjobo, has lambasted the party's secretary general Mahali Phamotse for allegedly sabotaging the party and the governing coalition.
The AD is the second largest in the governing coalition whose major party, the Thomas Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) is also reeling from a power struggle that threatens to consume it as well as bring down the almost two year-old government. Other parties in the governing coalition are the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) and these have not been spared the power struggles too.
Mr Litjobo and Dr Phamotse, who is also the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, appear to have had a cold war from the run-up to and the subsequent AD elective conference which was held in March 2018.
The duo had been billed to fight it out for the secretary general's post along with former secretary general, Mokhele Moletsane, but Mr Litjobo withdrew at the eleventh hour after a directive from the party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.
While accepting that all three were suitable for the post, Mr Moleleki directed them to withdraw from the contest, saying the election of any one of them would however, cause divisions among their supporters which could weaken the party.
Mr Litjobo heeded Mr Moleleki's directive and withdrew from the race leaving Dr Phamotse and Mr Moletsane to slug it out for the post that was eventually won by Dr Phamotse.
It is not clear if at all the latest fight has anything to do with their previous clashes but this week, Mr Litjobo took to radio to accuse "the former minister of education and of Justice" of working against the AD leader (Mr Moleleki) and bringing the party into disrepute. Although Mr Litjobo did not mention her by name, his remarks were a clear reference to Dr Phamotse who has served in both portfolios and is currently the Gender minister.
The Education and Justice ministries have and are experiencing serious problems. Teachers only recently ended their strike as they await the outcome of talks with the government for higher salaries and improved working conditions. Dr Phamotse was at the helm of the judiciary when the government's problems with the now suspended Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara started. The magistrates were also restive and have twice gone on a go-slow strike to press the government for higher salaries and improved working conditions.
And according to Mr Litjobo this week, "all the disturbances have erupted within ministries which are headed by AD ministers" and this could be the work of Dr Phamotse as she allegedly seeks to bring the AD into disrepute.
"I would like to enlighten all AD members and all coalition partners that there is a minister who is behind the teachers' strike and the judiciary disturbances and this is an AD minister who is busy sowing unrest in all ministries headed by the same party."
Mr Litjobo also spoke about a case where a correctional service officer who allegedly spoke ill of Mr Moleleki was later seen dining with one of the AD ministers, presumably Dr Phamotse.
"As if this was not enough, the ring leader of the teachers' strike was seen attending a ceremony at the same minister's house and this is clear that this is the same AD minister who is responsible for all the unrest in the ministries headed by the AD.
"I won't go into detail but it is worth giving everyone an assignment to find out who is the former minister of Education as well as former minister of Justice," Mr Litjobo said on radio this week.
However, when contacted for comment this week, Mr Litjobo said the writing was on the wall and he did not have to elaborate on what was happening within the AD.
"It is obvious that you have done your assignment but I am not going to be drawn into details on what is really happening in the AD. The time is not yet right and at the right time, I shall answer all your questions," Mr Litjobo said when it was put to him that he was at war with Dr Phamotse.
"It is premature to say anything and I know that even if I say no comment to you that would still be a comment to you. The time for me to comment on this issue has not come but it is up to you to draw your own conclusions on the matter as I think you are smart enough to do so".
On her part, Dr Phamotse said she was aware that there was war against her but it did not translate to infighting within the AD.
"I am aware of these allegations levelled against me and I can see that they come because I am a woman in a male dominated space. But I will not relent.
"I have very cordial relations with my leader (Mr Moleleki) and I have no reason to fight him," Dr Phamotse said.