‘We will shoot with our tongues’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

Eleven All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion ( ABC) Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) held a press con­fer­ence in Maseru this week to voice their con­cerns at de­lays in open­ing the 9th na­tional As­sem­bly. The MPS in­sisted fail­ure to open the leg­is­la­ture two months af­ter the elec­tions which ush­ered them into of­fice de­nied the elec­torate their right to hold the Ex­ec­u­tive to ac­count through their par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. Among the MPS was ’ Ma­mandla Musa of Tey­ateya­neng who later spoke ex­clu­sively to Le­sotho Times ( LT) re­porter lekhetho nt­sukun­yane about this is­sue and also re­ports that the ABC was fac­ing a sen­sa­tional split.

LT: Spec­u­la­tion is rife that a new party is about to be formed by some mem­bers of the ABC, who are said to be un­happy that there is no con­sen­sus about who should be the of­fi­cial leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment. The spec­u­la­tion pits you against ABC deputy leader Tlali Khasu and the party’s Butha-buthe MP Mot­lohi Maliehe for this post, which as we all know, comes with nu­mer­ous perks. How true is this?

Musa: I have also heard th­ese al­le­ga­tions, but the fact of the mat­ter is ABC leader, Dr Thomas Tha­bane, has not yet ap­pointed any­one to that po­si­tion. This there­fore, means he re­mains the leader of the op­po­si­tion by virtue of be­ing the ABC leader. It will re­main this way un­til such a time he re­tires and ap­points some­one else to the post. As things stand, and to the best of my knowl­edge, ntate Tha­bane is ready to go back to par­lia­ment as leader of the op­po­si­tion him­self, not any­one else.

LT: So you are ba­si­cally say­ing there is ba­sis to this split talk in the ABC be­cause of the po­si­tion I have men­tioned? Musa: Peo­ple will al­ways say what they want, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing a po­lit­i­cal party as big as the ABC. They will say many things most of which might not nec­es­sar­ily be true. Peo­ple de­vel­oped some in­ter­est in me when I ap­peared sec­ond af­ter ntate Tha­bane on the ABC Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) MPS list. Un­for­tu­nately, they started mak­ing wrong cal­cu­la­tions that au­to­mat­i­cally, he was go­ing to ap­point me leader of op­po­si­tion so that he can con­tinue en­joy­ing the benefits which come with be­ing a for­mer prime minis- ter. Maybe that is their ex­pec­ta­tion but they are wrong and should not make such state­ments and as­sump­tions; they should not use this wrong as­sump­tion to be­lieve that this is­sue has cre­ated fac­tions within the ABC be­cause that is not the case at all.

LT: Your de­trac­tors say you don’t have any ex­pe­ri­ence to qual­ify for the post of leader of the op­po­si­tion even if Dr Tha­bane was to push for your ap­point­ment…

Musa: In­deed, I have never been an MP be­fore; this is the first time I am go­ing to be in par­lia­ment. They are right on that note—that I don’t have the ex­pe­ri­ence. But the point is if you have the pas­sion to do well in any­thing, ex­pe­ri­ence does not re­ally mat­ter at all. You can learn and be suc­cess­ful in what­ever you want to achieve. Any­one who gets an op­por­tu­nity to be in par­lia­ment is there to learn on the job. There are some peo­ple who have been in par­lia­ment for so many years, but if you ask them some­thing re­lated to the House, you will be sur­prised they know al­most noth­ing de­spite the ex­pe­ri­ence. And a per­son could be in par­lia­ment for the first time, but be­cause of pas­sion you will find that he or she knows a lot bet­ter be­cause he reads and un­der­stands par­lia­men­tary is­sues. We just need some­one in­tel­li­gent enough to lead us. They should not judge me on the ba­sis that I do not have ex­pe­ri­ence.

LT: But are there any di­vi­sions in the ABC; is the party hav­ing se­ri­ous in­fight­ing over this is­sue or any­thing else?

Musa: There are no di­vi­sions at all in the ABC. This is just an un­founded and un­for­tu­nate ru­mour meant to desta­bilise the party. I can con­fi­dently as­sure the na­tion that the is­sue about who is even­tu­ally ap­pointed leader of the op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment has not, up to this point, both­ered the party at all. This week­end, the party will be hold­ing a mas­sive con­fer­ence in Mafeteng where sev­eral is­sues are ob­vi­ously go­ing to be ad­dressed. We ex­pect this to be a fruit­ful meet­ing af­ter which there won’t be any al­le­ga­tions of this kind any­more be­cause the leader will even­tu­ally an­nounce his stance about the is­sue. We are ac­tu­ally go­ing to in­tro­spect as a party fol­low­ing the 28 Fe­bru­ary elec­tions, which as we all know, saw the ABC leav­ing gov­ern­ment be­fore the end of its five-year term.

LT: As the main op­po­si­tion MPS, you have raised a se­ries of con­cerns which you want the gov­ern­ment to ad­dress. How do you hope to force the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili (Demo­cratic Congress leader)

Once we get into par­lia­ment, we are go­ing to speak with one big voice. We are go­ing to chal­lenge th­ese min­is­ters’ sta­tus in par­lia­ment in re­la­tion to the cases they face be­fore the courts of law. We are not go­ing to be si­lent about that. They have to ac­count and con­vince us why we should con­tinue work­ing with them in par­lia­ment while there are se­ri­ous cases pending in the courts against them. As ABC MPS, we un­der­take that what­ever con­cerns the public, we are go­ing to raise in par­lia­ment. If not, we are ready to take them through a nasty po­lit­i­cal route. They should re­mem­ber we won most of the con­stituen­cies in Maseru and nearby towns and if we call for a stay-away, you can imag­ine how mas­sive it will be. They should not make a mis­take of push­ing us too far be­cause we will end up show­ing them an area where they have power to rule, and that is Qacha’s nek, not here. We were party to the pre­vi­ous coali­tion gov­ern­ment where we seemed to have been quite le­nient on many is­sues both­er­ing this na­tion be­cause we wanted peace to reign. But if you look back to when we were the op­po­si­tion, prior to the 26 May 2012 elec­tions, we had a few seats in par­lia­ment. now in this 9th Par­lia­ment, we come back as a mas­sive op­po­si­tion with a to­tal of 46 seats. If you look care­fully where th­ese peo­ple in gov­ern­ment were voted for, it is in the ru­ral parts of the coun­try. We have full con­trol in Maseru and other ar­eas.

LT: The ABC is sig­na­tory to agree­ments which were made prior to the 28 Fe­bru­ary snap elec­tions, which called for the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) to in­ter­vene in Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity crises. Don’t you think that by op­pos­ing de­ci­sions made by the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment of seven par­ties, which came to power through the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tion, you might fall foul of the re­gional body?

Musa: If you call some­one into your house to me­di­ate in a dis­pute, it does not mean that per­son now be­comes your fa­ther. We are Ba­sotho. We can­not be dic­tated to by out­siders on what we can and can’t do. This is a sovereign state which has its own con­sti­tu­tion. SADC was here to me­di­ate. The or­ga­ni­za­tion can­not dic­tate what we should do in con­tra­ven­tion of our laws and un­der­mine our au­thor­i­ties. We can no longer al­low out­siders to divide us. We can­not sit back and just be help­less. Our leader, ntate Tha­bane, has not taught us to be lazy. He has taught us how to lobby stake­hold­ers, and most im­por­tantly, he has taught us how to go back to the peo­ple who voted us into power and give them feed­back and get a man­date from them. If you look care­fully how the ABC has grown from scratch into win­ning 40 con­stituen­cies, you will re­alise that the party has mas­tered the art of lob­by­ing Ba­sotho and we will con­tinue to do that. like I said, we have AK47S. We are go­ing to shoot through our tongues. We are go­ing to use our tongues to fight for Ba­sotho be­cause we are here to rep­re­sent them. We prom­ise that as we leave here, we are not go­ing to rest. We will work hard to play our role as the coun­try’s main op­po­si­tion.

ABC MP for Tey­ateya­neng ’Ma­mandla Musa.

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