Jobs for the youth is my fo­cus

. . . newly-elected DCYL pres­i­dent Thuso Litjobo out­lines vi­sion

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

THE rul­ing Demo­cratic Congress Youth League (DCYL) held its na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence this past week­end, with its for­mer chair­man, Thuso Litjobo ( pic­tured), land­ing the post of pres­i­dent. Mr Litjobo de­feated for­mer DCYL spokesper­son, Mpa­bal­leng Mot­jet­jepa, af­ter gar­ner­ing 1 041 votes against her 350.

Mr Litjobo has fea­tured in youth struc­tures since 2006 be­fore the DC broke away from the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD). He spoke to Le­sotho Times ( LT) Po­lit­i­cal Editor Bongiwe Zih­langu about his re­sound­ing vic­tory, vi­sion for the youth league and plans to grow the DC. Be­low are ex­cerpts from the in­ter­view.

LT: You have just been elected as the new DCYL pres­i­dent, mak­ing you the youth wing’s sec­ond leader since the party was formed in 2012. How do you feel and what does this vic­tory mean to you?

Litjobo: I feel very hum­bled and hon­oured that the youth have en­trusted me with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead them. Words can­not de­scribe how I am feel­ing right now.

This vic­tory has a lot of mean­ing to me be­cause this is not the first time that the youth league of my party has elected me to a lead­er­ship po­si­tion. This is ac­tu­ally the fourth time, hav­ing been elected na­tional youth com­mit­tee deputy-spokesper­son in 2006, spokesper­son in 2007 and chair­man in 2010.

This was when we were still in the LCD, and now I am the DC youth league pres­i­dent. This means the party’s youth have a lot of faith in me. It, there­fore, has to click in my mind that I owe them a great deal.

LT: You are fill­ing the shoes of for­mer DCYL pres­i­dent Mos­ala Mo­jak­isane. What have you learnt from him that you will take with you in the next three years at the helm of the party’s youth wing?

Litjobo: He has a lot of qual­i­ties that I ad­mire. But, let me say that the one that stands out is his pa­tience. As I start to lead the youth of the DC, I am re­mind­ing my­self time and again that pa­tience is a virtue.

LT: You say that you owe the youth for mak­ing you their pres­i­dent. What are you go­ing to do as an ex­pres­sion of that grat­i­tude?

Litjobo: It is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that the youth pros­per as in­di­vid­u­als and that their fu­ture is bright. This ap­plies to not only the DC youth but Ba­sotho youth in gen­eral. We need to push for pol­icy changes, to en­sure that gov­ern­ment cre­ates jobs for the youth. My com­mit­tee and I will also en­sure that gov­ern­ment cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple to start their own busi­nesses, with a view to grow­ing them so that they em­ploy other youths. This way, they will help lift the bur­den on gov­ern­ment as we all know the civil ser­vice is very small and can there­fore not cater for ev­ery­body.

LT: As things stand, many youths, par­tic­u­larly from the seven rul­ing par­ties, are dis­grun­tled be­cause they are still out in the cold al­most seven months af­ter as­sum­ing power. How soon do you think you will have in­flu­enced the changes in pol­icy-mak­ing that you ad­vo­cate for?

Litjobo: We in­tend to do all in our power to re­alise this dream, in­clud­ing ex­ert­ing pres­sure on cab­i­net as the youth leagues of the seven po­lit­i­cal par­ties in gov­ern­ment, to en­sure that gov­ern­ment makes strides to cre­ate jobs.

LT: What is your vi­sion for the DC youth league? Where do you plan to take it?

Litjobo: The fu­ture of any po­lit­i­cal party de­pends largely on its youth mem­ber­ship. We are go­ing to work to­wards in­creas­ing the num­bers of our youth mem­bers, by at­tract­ing new mem­bers to our party. And that we can achieve by poach­ing peo­ple from other po­lit­i­cal par­ties be­cause there is a say­ing in pol­i­tics that one bird builds its nest us­ing another’s feath­ers. We will also reach out to those peo­ple who are not mem­bers of any po­lit­i­cal party and con­vince them that the DC is an ideal po­lit­i­cal home for any Mosotho.

LT: Your leader, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, said at the open­ing of the DC youth league elec­tive con­fer­ence that the DC and other par­ties founded on the Congress ide­ol­ogy had lost con­stituen­cies which were their strongholds to Na­tion­al­ist par­ties. He urged you to go all out to re­tain those con­stituen­cies. Do you have a fool-proof plan to achieve that? Litjobo: What he said has been play­ing in my mind over and over again. We need to reach out to peo­ple in the grass­roots, en­gage them so that we un­der­stand why we lost.

We need to de­vise a strat­egy, visit those con­stituen­cies and talk to the peo­ple, sell them our mes­sage and con­vince them that the DC de­serves their votes. We need to sell our mes­sage to mem­bers of po­lit­i­cal par­ties across the board.

LT: When Mr Mo­jak­isane ad­dressed the youth for the last time dur­ing the elec­tive con­fer­ence, he ap­pealed to the el­ders to stay out of youth af­fairs as their in­ter­fer­ence desta­bilises the youths and makes them lose fo­cus. What is your take on that?

Litjobo: I agree with him to­tally. Se­niors in the party should stop med­dling in youth is­sues. That is why we have three com­mit­tees, the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee as well as the na­tional youth and women’s com­mit­tees. Ev­ery com­mit­tee has its own man­date.

A good ex­am­ple is this last youth league elec­tive con­fer­ence, where our se­niors were med­dling and con­fus­ing the youth, to the point of spread­ing pro­pa­ganda that some of us were fight­ing Dr Mo­sisili’s lead­er­ship. It was very bad be­cause that was not the case.

LT: How does your com­mit­tee in­tend to rein se­niors in so that they do not med­dle in youth is­sues?

Litjobo: As the youth, we can­not ex­actly say we will put them in their place be­cause that would be dis­re­spect­ful. What we need to do as the youth is to sim­ply re­sist the temp­ta­tion to be used by firmly, but re­spect­fully, show­ing our se­niors the er­ror of their ways and re­fus­ing to be drawn into their is­sues.

LT: Both Dr Mo­sisili and his deputy Monyane Moleleki, dur­ing the open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies of the youth league re­spec­tively, warned the youth against crav­ing for the power and op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with be­ing in gov­ern­ment. What is your take on that?

Litjobo: I sup­port my lead­ers in rep­ri­mand­ing peo­ple for their greed and be­ing op­por­tunis­tic. To those peo­ple who have lived and breathed for power and op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with be­ing in gov­ern­ment, I urge them to stop with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. To those who are grad­u­ally de­vel­op­ing an in­ces­sant lust for power, I ad­vise them to re­con­sider.

Our two lead­ers’ words must be an eye-opener, that our party’s pros­per­ity should be our pri­or­ity. We should put the DC be­fore our own in­ter­ests.

LT: In the build-up to the DCYL elec­tive con­fer­ence, you were painted in a bad light, with your pri­vate af­fairs and your fam­ily be­ing dis­cussed in the so­cial media by all and sundry. How did you feel? Are you go­ing to be able to work with those peo­ple now that you are pres­i­dent?

Litjobo: I must say that when we fight for po­si­tions, peo­ple will say and do any­thing to put them­selves in a pos­i­tive light, in­clud­ing com­pro­mis­ing oth­ers.

When a lot of neg­a­tive stuff was be­ing said about me, it made me stronger and more fo­cused. I even told my sup­port­ers not to re­spond or re­tal­i­ate no mat­ter how hurt they were, be­cause at the end of the day we knew we would emerge vic­to­ri­ous.

I ac­tu­ally thank those peo­ple who de­famed me and de­filed my name be­cause their an­tics pro­pelled me to promi­nence. They in­di­rectly cam­paigned for me. Peo­ple as­sessed the words they were say­ing and still de­cided I was wor­thy to lead the DC youth league.

LT: The lead­ers of the seven-party coali­tion have hinted that gov­ern­ment needs to put in place con­trols in place to reg­u­late the use of so­cial net­works as peo­ple tend to abuse them. What’s your take?

Litjobo: In­deed gov­ern­ment is con­tem­plat­ing closely reg­u­lat­ing the use of so­cial media, to curb the abuse hurled at our lead­ers. Peo­ple who abuse so­cial net­works by de­fam­ing and in­sult­ing oth­ers need to be reined in.

There must be ways to trace peo­ple who de­fame and de­file oth­ers on so­cial media so that at the end of the day, peo­ple who are ag­grieved can seek le­gal re­course.

It is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that the youth pros­per as in­di­vid­u­als and that their fu­ture is bright. This ap­plies to not only the DC youth but Ba­sotho youth in gen­eral. We need to push for pol­icy changes, to en­sure that gov­ern­ment cre­ates jobs for the youth.

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