MASERU – New Democratic Congress (DC) Youth League president Moeketsi Shale’s tenure is under threat barely a week after he defied the odds and romped to victory in last Saturday’s elective conference. Shale’s unexpected victory has been met with stubborn resistance and skepticism within his own executive whose members had backed former acting youth president Fusi Ramantai.
The resultant fallout is now threatening to suck in party bigwigs accused of favouring the warring factions. So disappointed were Shale’s newly-elected fellow office bearers that they refused to be introduced with him, demanding a recount of votes after Shale garnered 482 votes to Ramantai’s 432, and winning by the narrowest of margins.
Ramantai this week confirmed disputing the result, saying he had lodged a request for a recount with the DC electoral body. However, in an exclusive interview with Public Eye recently, Shale said he was unfazed by the rejection and considered it “an assignment for me to teach my colleagues that you don’t have to like a person to work with them”.
“The Ramantai team took all positions from deputy-president downwards, then voted me as president. This tells you that people did not vote for the Ramantai’s team nomination list. It says people voted for Shale and not the nomination list that he was on,” Shale said. “There are some constituencies who made it clear that they were only going to vote for me and not the people on my nomination list. They were clear that from the deputy president downwards, they would vote whichever way they fancied.
“I think the Ramantai team thought it was a must that he would be president if people appearing on his nomination list made the youth executive committee. But one thing that should be clear here is that some people from Ramantai’s team were also my supporters. That’s why they don’t have much of a problem with me. The problem is the person who was sponsoring them.”
Shale added that he had attempted to talk to Ramantai who claimed to be at home in Peka constituency in Leribe. “I am saying to you that I have been talking to them following the drama on Sunday. I also talked to Ramantai and asked him to meet so that we could resolve those outstanding issues. But he said he was still in Peka and would notify me when he was in Maseru,” Shale said.
However, Shale was adamant he would not agree to a recount, but that if “push comes to shove” then a re-lection would be the ideal “But what cannot happen is for them to open the ballot boxes. I will not allow that to happen. That is not transparency. I wanted to meet with Ramantai so that he could explain what his problem was. I wanted to tell him that there was no need to create drama and bring unnecessary attention to the DC. I want him to bring all the evidence. “They don’t need to go to court, involve the DC national executive committee or lobby constituencies to challenge my election. They must come so that we sit down and talk.
A re-election I would support, not a recount of votes. We should also call people who comprised the elections committee so that we can resolve the mess together, if there’s any.” Shale fears ballot stuffing could have happened in his absence hence he felt it would be disingenuous on his part “if I agree to a recount” especially because “they haven’t provided tangible evidence that the election was rigged”.
“The irony of it all is that unlike me, Ramantai was there watching as the votes were being counted. It means I should be the one complaining because I have about 80 spoilt votes and I have no idea why they were spoilt. The outspoken DC youth leader further submitted that should there be a recount “I will wallop them twice over”.
Ramantai said his Peka constituents had instructed him to demand a recount and he had lodged a formal complaint wit the DC NEC and with Secretary-General Semano Sekatle’s office. “I have also learnt that members of the new committee also lodged their own complaint with the same office on Wednesday last week, just a day after I submitted mine, on a similar issue. They also ask that in order for them to be able to execute their duties efficiently, they are seeking a recount. People should not be misled.
Ramantai charged that Shale was not even “eligible to vote or be elected by the conference and he was not endorsed by his Mt. Moorosi constituency”. “If Shale was indeed elected over me, which I strongly doubt, then it would mean that ours is a biased God. Shale is a non-entity in the DC. For instance, for one to be eligible to contest elections, they ought to be active in their party’s structures; Shale was not even endorsed by his Mt. Moorosi constituency to begin with,” Ramantai lashed out.
“One ought to have been in the constituency committee to contest elections at national level... he lacks the required experience to lead, let alone the DC youth at national level. Ramantai said his faction should be the one concerned about the ballot boxes being tampered with as they were the complainants adding, “What is he running away from?”Default Basic Success warning Info Danger Primary