‘We must not be mis­led by en­emy’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

THE Demo­cratic Congress (DC) — the ma­jor share­holder in the seven-party govern­ment — held a na­tional con­fer­ence in Ha Foso last week­end where it elected its first Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC) among other is­sues.

’Maboiketlo Maliehe, who re­tained her po­si­tion as chair­per­son, spoke with Le­sotho Times ( LT) reporter, Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, about the con­fer­ence — the DC’S first since the party was es­tab­lished in 2011.

LT: The DC held a na­tional con­fer­ence at the week­end, where the party elected its first NEC for a three-year term. Could you please first tell us the out­come of the elec­tion and how the new NEC looks?

Maliehe: It is im­por­tant to men­tion that we were elect­ing from the po­si­tion of deputy leader down­wards as per the party’s con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, the deputy leader, Ntate Monyane Moleleki, was un­chal­lenged, which means he re­mains in that po­si­tion. The next po­si­tion is that of sec­re­tary gen­eral, which was won by Ntate Ralechate ’Mokose. The next po­si­tion is that of trea­surer which went to Dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla. Then, still in de­scend­ing or­der of hi­er­ar­chy, we have the po­si­tion of chair­per­son, and I was un­chal­lenged for that post.

The po­si­tion of deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral was filled by Ntate Re­filoe Litjobo, while the deputy chair­per­son post went to Ntate Mot­la­len­toa Let­sosa. The spokesper­son is Ntate Se­ri­a­long Qoo, while his deputy is Ntate Lipha­pang Rapon­tšo. The pub­li­cist is Ntate Tsukut­lane Au, and his deputy is Ntate Retšelisit­soe Masenyetse. Then we have four mem­bers, namely Ms ’ Male­baka Bu­lane, Ntate Ndi­wudlile Nd­lo­mose, Ms ’Mathabo Shao and Ntate Mot­seki Nkaleche.

LT: The Prime Min­is­ter, who is also the DC leader, Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili, said in his open­ing speech that it had come to his at­ten­tion that there were some DC mem­bers who had ap­proached the main op­po­si­tion All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), with a view to form an­other coali­tion govern­ment with the party. Does this now con­firm what had al­ways been de­nied by the DC — that there were fac­tions within the party — one sup­port­ing the leader and the other his deputy, Mr Moleleki?

Maliehe: I will not com­ment on the leader’s open­ing speech for the sim­ple rea­son that the con­fer­ence agreed that Ntate Mo­sisili’s state­ment, be­cause he is the leader, had been clear to us and should be adopted. The con­fer­ence fur­ther reached a de­ci­sion that no mem­ber of the party would talk about the state­ment be­yond the con­fer­ence.

In one of the clauses, the DC con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that it is a se­ri­ous of­fence for one not to abide by de­ci­sions made in the na­tional con­fer­ence. It is an of­fence so se­ri­ous that a mem­ber should be ex­pelled from the party or face an al­ter­na­tive se­ri­ous pun­ish­ment for breach­ing this rule. Based on th­ese reg­u­la­tions, I can­not re­spond to this par­tic­u­lar ques­tion.

LT: The con­fer­ence it­self; Why is it so im­por­tant to the party?

Maliehe: It is very sig­nif­i­cant for us to have held the NEC elec­tions be­cause th­ese are the peo­ple that DC mem­bers have del­e­gated to drive the man­date of their party; who will be the dif­fer­ence be­tween the suc­cess and fail­ure of the party. It is equally im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that th­ese are the peo­ple care­fully se­lected by party mem­bers to as­sist the leader, who is the main driver of the DC man­date. They are the work­ing hands of the leader, and each of them has his or her own area of ad­min­is­tra­tion, act­ing on be­half of the leader, for the ben­e­fit of the gen­eral mem­ber­ship of the party.

It is im­por­tant also to men­tion that th­ese peo­ple are sent on a three-year mis­sion to ad­min­is­ter the party, hence af­ter this pe­riod, they have to ac­count to the mem­ber­ship at a na­tional con­fer­ence. The growth and weak­nesses of the party are high­lighted in a re­port com­piled and pre­sented by the sec­re­tary gen­eral dur­ing the na­tional con­fer­ence at the end of the NEC’S term. The party’s growth is de­ter­mined mainly by in­creas­ing mem­ber­ship.

The sec­re­tary gen­eral should say in the re­port how the party mem­ber­ship was af­fected; if the mem­ber­ship was af­fected neg­a­tively, he or she should be in a po­si­tion to say what the weak­nesses were and what could be the so­lu­tion.

The re­port should also in­clude is­sues of both the women’s and youth leagues. It also cov­ers is­sues from con­stituency level. Th­ese en­tire is­sues in the re­port will de­ter­mine whether or not the party is in the right di­rec­tion of growth. Other than the sec­re­tary gen­eral’s re­port, we will also have that of the trea­surer which re­lates to the party’s funds and as­sets. Th­ese two re­ports are piv­otal dur­ing the na­tional con­fer­ence. The na­tional con­fer­ence is fur­ther im­por­tant in that it is where the own­ers of the party, be­ing mem­bers even from branch level, meet to as­sess and de­ter­mine the way for­ward.

LT: How does this hap­pen?

Maliehe: We have three of­fi­cials from each of the 80 con­stituen­cies across the coun­try. Th­ese of­fi­cials, namely sec­re­tary gen­eral, trea­surer and chair­per­son, lead the party’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives at branch level. In other words, the na­tional con­fer­ence is mainly a meet­ing of mem­bers at branch level. Re­mem­ber, con­stituen­cies are es­tab­lished by a num­ber of branches. Con­stituen­cies have a dif­fer­ent num­ber of branches de­pend­ing on their size.

So we have a large num­ber of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from branches this way; the ra­tio is for ev­ery 500 mem­bers at our branches, one per­son is elected to rep­re­sent them at the con­fer­ence. Where we would have 501 or more, but not more than 1000 mem­bers in a branch, then two rep­re­sen­ta­tives are elected to at­tend the con­fer­ence. For this na­tional con­fer­ence, we had ex­pected over 2000 peo­ple to of­fi­cially at­tend and cast their vote, but we ended up with 1 944.

So you will no­tice that a large num­ber comes from the branches. I should also men­tion that in the case of the three of­fi­cials from each con­stituency, if that par­tic­u­lar of­fi­cial, say chair­per­son for in­stance, can­not at­tend the con­fer­ence for what­ever rea­son, no sub­sti­tute is al­lowed to rep­re­sent them in the con­fer­ence. This is one of the fac­tors why we had 1944 peo­ple in­stead of over 2000. The con- sti­tu­tion re­quires that those of­fi­cials should come in per­son.

LT: What does the party’s con­sti­tu­tion say about the po­si­tion of the leader in terms of when he or she should be elected?

Maliehe: The con­sti­tu­tion is very clear that the leader is elected once ev­ery six years. That is why we held the first na­tional con­fer­ence to elect the NEC save for the po­si­tion of party leader which will be con­tested in three years’ time.

LT: What were some of the res­o­lu­tions made at the con­fer­ence?

Maliehe: If I can quote our leader, Ntate Pakalitha Mo­sisili, in his clos­ing speech at the con­fer­ence, he said: “Here is the party con­sti­tu­tion which guided mem­bers to elect­ing you (NEC). Your po­si­tions are of­fices in which you should know very well the tasks of your of­fice. Ev­ery of­fice should per­form its tasks aligned with the con­sti­tu­tion”.

Hav­ing said that, it means now when the NEC meets for the first time, it should de­velop a strat­egy in view of the sec­re­tary gen­eral’s re­port and oth­ers, and the dis­cus­sions made at the con­fer­ence, to strengthen the party. That NEC strat­egy should en­able the party to ad­dress th­ese is­sues dur­ing its three­year term.

LT: When is the first NEC meet­ing?

Maliehe: The last NEC used to have its meet­ings ev­ery first Wed­nes­day of the month. If that is go­ing to con­tinue in the new com­mit­tee, then we can ex­pect the first meet­ing to be held on Wed­nes­day (yes­ter­day). But this will de­pend on the de­ci­sion of the sec­re­tary gen­eral in con­sul­ta­tion with the leader.

LT: What are the chal­lenges fac­ing the DC, in your view?

Maliehe: To me, the big­gest chal­lenge we have is that of build­ing the party and grow­ing its mem­ber­ship. And to achieve this, we need to ed­u­cate our mem­bers about the party’s con­sti­tu­tion. If mem­bers are clear on what the con­sti­tu­tion re­quires of them, they will be­come one and they will be un­shak­able no mat­ter the chal­lenges.

Like I said, my deep­est con­cern is for party mem­bers to re­ceive enough knowl­edge about what the con­sti­tu­tion re­quires of them. If you may come across a real congress per­son who is well-trained and clear about the con­sti­tu­tion, you will no­tice that you can­not change his or her mind no mat­ter what you say. Real congress peo­ple stick with congress prin­ci­ples and are un­shak­able and re­sis­tant to any ex­ter­nal forces.

When we first joined the congress move­ment with the Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP) ages ago, there was this fa­mous state­ment that ‘ if you cook the head of a congress per­son to­gether with a gran­ite stone, the lat­ter will GET COOKED first’.

This is sim­ply be­cause a real congress per­son can­not be de­terred from congress prin­ci­ple. He or she is clear what the con­sti­tu­tion says. He or she is clear on the fun­da­men­tals of a congress per­son. This is what I am go­ing to ask from the NEC that we should con­sider to deepen the train­ing of party mem­bers about the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of the congress move­ment en­shrined in the party’s con­sti­tu­tion.

The DC is the only di­a­mond we have. We should pro­tect it by re­fus­ing to be mis­led by our en­e­mies. We should be uni­fied and solid against ex­ter­nal forces. Ntate Ntsu (Mokhehle) (the founder of the BCP and the congress move­ment in Le­sotho) used to con­duct th­ese train­ings reg­u­larly and that strength­ened the mem­ber­ship of the party.

LT: Could th­ese train­ings also be a so­lu­tion in terms of pre­vent­ing the splits that have been so preva­lent in the congress par­ties?

Maliehe: Ac­cord­ing to how I see it, it’s a def­i­nite yes. Where mem­bers are not well-trained about the con­sti­tu­tion, they will have divi­sions be­cause they are not at the same level of un­der­stand­ing of the prin­ci­ples of the party. They are eas­ily in­flu­enced by the en­emy be­cause they have no solid tool to rely on. They can hardly iden­tify a wrong from a right. In this sit­u­a­tion, the only right tool to rely on is the con­sti­tu­tion. It will not let you down if you stick to its stip­u­la­tions.

LT: What is your take on the al­leged rec­om­men­da­tion by some party mem­bers that Dr Mo­sisili should re­tire from ac­tive pol­i­tics at the end of his term and make way for some young blood?

Maliehe: Like I said, I joined the congress move­ment ages ago. We used to live by the prin­ci­ple that our leader is a trend­set­ter. He al­ways has a way of lead­ing the party in the right di­rec­tion. The congress phi­los­o­phy says what the leader speaks is the right di­rec­tion for the party.

So if you don’t fol­low what the leader says, you are go­ing astray. My point is, let us not chal­lenge our leader as party mem­bers. Let him vol­un­tar­ily pass his lead­er­ship to the next can­di­date when the time is right for him to do so. Our leader is a very hum­ble man. He is a uni­fy­ing fac­tor.

Play­ing a lead­er­ship role in pol­i­tics is not easy. It re­quires one to be hum­ble and not rush into a de­ci­sion. An ideal politi­cian is smart enough to take his or her time to pol­ish an idea, but once he or she is sat­is­fied that the idea is good, he or she is quick to im­ple­ment it.

DC Chair­per­son ’Maboiketlo Maliehe.

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