Phooko quits LCD

…blames party leader Mo­th­etjoa Mets­ing for his sen­sa­tional de­par­ture.

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

VETERAN politi­cian and Pub­lic Ser­vice min­is­ter, Dr Mot­lo­h­eloa Phooko, has quit the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) amid sen­sa­tional claims of a bit­ter fall­out with party leader Mo­th­etjoa Mets­ing and some mem­bers of the Na­tional ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee.

Dr Phooko (75), who was elected LCD deputy leader in 2012, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times he had de­cided to quit the party due to a com­plete break­down of trust with Mr Mets­ing and some un­named NEC mem­bers.

The min­is­ter re­vealed he had since joined the newly formed Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL), along­side sev­eral other disgruntled LCD mem­bers.

Mr Mets­ing, he added, showed him such dis­re­spect he would not even bother to in­form him and the rest of the party’s NEC about his decision to leave the LCD.

“I have de­cided to leave the LCD and have not told Mets­ing and the NEC about this, and I don’t think there is any need to any­way, con­sid­er­ing the way I was be­ing treated of late,” Dr Phooko told the Le­sotho Times.

“My main rea­son for leav­ing the LCD was Ntate Mets­ing. I was his deputy, so I ex­pected to work with him closely for the growth of the party.

“But be­cause he was ex­tremely self­ish and pompous, he would side­line me in ev­ery­thing, and I would hear about cer­tain party ac­tiv­i­ties from other mem­bers of the NEC or even or­di­nary LCD sup­port­ers.

“I felt he no longer con­sid­ered me a col­league, let alone his deputy, as he would openly refuse to take any ad­vice from me. This was a clear in­di­ca­tion that he no longer trusted me, hence my decision to leave and be with the RCL.”

Dr Phooko would not say in what ca­pac­ity he was join­ing the RCL — a party which is al­legedly led by another for­mer LCD NEC mem­ber, Keketso Ran­tšo.

Ms Ran­tšo, who is also Labour and em­ploy­ment min­is­ter and was sus­pended as LCD sec­re­tary gen­eral early this year after fall­ing out with Mr Mets­ing, has per­sis­tently de­nied any links with the RCL although she at­tended the party’s elec­tion cam­paigns in Thaba-bo­siu and Machache con­stituen­cies on Sun­day.

“The LCD is this di­vided to­day be­cause of Ntate Mets­ing’s self­ish­ness. he for­gets that this is an or­gan­i­sa­tion with a mem­ber­ship and proper struc­ture, and only wants things to be done his way.

“he does not tol­er­ate any op­pos­ing views, hence the dis­con­tent within the party.

“What is sur­pris­ing is that he is al­ready a leader of the LCD, but re­mains power-hun­gry. One won­ders what other power he wants be­cause on top of that, he is also the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Chief­tain­ship Af­fairs. So why can’t he be con­tent with all this?”

Asked when he re­alised that his days in the LCD could be num­bered, Dr Phooko said: “It all started around Septem­ber this year, dur­ing one of our NEC meet­ings when I pleaded with Ntate Mets­ing to stop hold­ing se­cret meet­ings, pop­u­larly known as ‘Li­nakeli’, at con­stituency level.

“I told him the sup­port­ers were com­plain­ing about the meet­ings and that they were tar­nish­ing his im­age as he was sup­posed to be the leader of the party and en­cour­ag­ing th­ese se­cret meet­ings was not proper for some­one of his stature.

“I ad­vised him to ask NEC mem­bers to or­gan­ise him proper meet­ings in the con­stituen­cies if he had some­thing to say to the sup­port­ers.

“he never lis­tened and openly told me that he was go­ing to con­tinue hold­ing the se­cret meet­ings. And to my sur­prise, he even held one in my own con­stituency of Litha­ba­neng, with­out even in­form­ing me about it.

“This was a clear in­di­ca­tion that he did not trust me to be present when he ad­dressed th­ese meet­ings.”

Another “shocker”, ac­cord­ing to

Dr Phooko, was on 10 Oc­to­ber this year when the Litha­ba­neng con­stituency com­mit­tee, youth and women’s leagues were elected with­out his knowl­edge.

The sit­ting com­mit­tees at the time were also not aware that they were be­ing re­placed, he added.

“Ntate Mets­ing just gath­ered

his sup­port­ers from Litha­ba­neng con­stituency and made them elect peo­ple of his choice to fill-up those po­si­tions.

“This was dic­ta­tor­ship of the worst kind, but it never both­ered him that this had not gone down well with many mem­bers of the party.”

how­ever, Dr Phooko said be­cause of the love he had for the LCD, he ap­proached the chair­man of the LCD Vet­er­ans Com­mit­tee, Mr Le­sao Le­hohla, a week after this de­vel­op­ment, for in­ter­ven­tion.

“I asked Ntate Le­hohla to in­ter­vene and ar­range a meet­ing where he could speak with me and Ntate Mets­ing about th­ese disturbing de­vel­op­ments.

how­ever, Mr Mets­ing never showed up for the meet­ing, and later claimed he could not come be­cause he was sick.

“Ntate Le­hohla ar­ranged another meet­ing the same month but again, Ntate Mets­ing can­celled it with­out any ex­pla­na­tion.

“The meet­ing was sup­posed to be at 9am on a Tues­day, but he de­cided not to come. Sur­pris­ingly, he at­tended Par­lia­ment the same af­ter­noon, and when I ap­proached him and asked why he had can­celled the meet­ing, he said he would call me and Ntate Le­hohla later but he never did.”

Dr Phooko also said the LCD NEC has been pre­par­ing for the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tion, and also meet­ing for other im­por­tant party is­sues, but he had never been in­vited de­spite be­ing deputy leader.

“By so do­ing, the NEC had lit­er­ally dis­missed me as deputy leader of the party, and so I de­cided to oblige them their wish.

“I should make it clear that I am now a ‘Bolekana’, a mem­ber of the RCL. I should also make it clear that most of the peo­ple Mets­ing hated are now ‘Bolekana’.”

Dr Phooko fur­ther lamented the RCL’S late reg­is­tra­tion with the In­de­pen­dent elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC), although he in­sisted the party, whose NEC is yet to be re­vealed, would contest the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 par­lia­men­tary poll.

he also claimed some LCD mem­bers had gone to the Law Of­fice to check if his name was on the list of the RCL lead­er­ship.

“My name was not on the list, but I was part of the es­tab­lish­ment of that party. I was just smart enough to re­alise that they would go there and check and de­cided to with­hold my name,” he said.

“how­ever, I was ready to go and sign the elec­toral Pledge for a peace­ful elec­tion that other party lead­ers signed be­fore SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor (to Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity cri­sis), Cyril Ramaphosa last week, after it be­came clear that I no longer had a place in the LCD.”

Con­tacted yes­ter­day for com­ment re­gard­ing Dr Phooko’s res­ig­na­tion, LCD Act­ing Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Tšeliso Mokhosi said he was not aware of it.

“There was ru­mour go­ing on that he was a mem­ber of the RCL but since we had no proof about this, there was noth­ing the party could do about it. We be­lieved th­ese were mere al­le­ga­tions meant to dis­credit him.

“But if it is true that Ntate Phooko has left the LCD for the RCL with­out of­fi­cially no­ti­fy­ing our NEC or the leader, Ntate Mets­ing, the LCD takes it as un­fair and an em­bar­rass­ing move be­cause we trusted him as our leader, and se­nior cit­i­zen of this coun­try,” Mr Mokhosi said.

Asked if al­le­ga­tions raised by Dr Phooko were true, Mr Mokhosi said: “Ntate Phooko is sup­posed to be a re­spected min­is­ter of his Majesty’s gov­ern­ment and also a se­nior cit­i­zen who is ex­pected to live for the truth, but un­for­tu­nately, his al­le­ga­tions against Ntate Mets­ing and the NEC prove oth­er­wise.

“We never re­ceived any com­plaints from our Litha­ba­neng con­stituency com­mit­tee, the NEC or our leader about Dr Phooko. This only means the LCD put its trust in some­one un­wor­thy of be­ing a leader. It is a shame be­cause the mem­ber­ship of the party trusted him to be the next in line to lead the LCD.

“Any­way, Dr Phooko is free to make his own de­ci­sions as pro­vided in our na­tional con­sti­tu­tion. We are def­i­nitely go­ing to miss his skills, in­tel­li­gence and de­ter­mi­na­tion as the LCD,” said Mr Mokhosi, who is also en­ergy, Me­te­o­rol­ogy and Wa­ter Af­fairs min­is­ter .

how­ever, Mr Mokhosi pleaded with Dr Phooko to of­fi­cially in­form the LCD NEC of his decision to leave the party.

“It is re­ally un­fair that he has not told us that he is leav­ing be­cause the party’s NEC had been work­ing hand-in-hand with him, con­trary to what he has told you,” Mr Mokhosi said.

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