Jobs for the youth is my focus
. . . newly-elected DCYL president Thuso Litjobo outlines vision
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.